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  Glendening's Inaugural Address

The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 20, 1999; 5:16 p.m. EST

The text of the inaugural address delivered Wednesday by Gov. Parris N. Glendening:

Senate President Mike Miller; Speaker Cas Taylor; Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who I believe is the best Lt. Governor in the entire nation, and she is also the person directly responsible for having made Maryland a safer state; Attorney General Joe Curran; Comptroller Bobby Swann; Comptroller-elect William Donald Schaefer; Treasurer Richard Dixon; Chief Judge Bob Bell; Members of the General Assembly; Mrs. Christine Sarbanes, representing our Senior Senator Paul Sarbanes; Our distinguished members of Congress and Local Elected Officials; My friends and fellow citizens; But I want to give a special welcome and a special note of appreciation here to my wife Frances Anne. Frances Anne, could you come forward. Frances Anne who has done so much for this State and for the Arts, and for Children, and Mental Health, and has been part of the success that we have and I love her very much. Let me also ask our son Raymond if he would come forward.

Raymond, of whom we are so very, very proud. Let me tell you a quick story, when I first ran for County Executive, in 1982, I can remember, I can remember so clearly, giving him a fire truck during the inaugural ceremonies. And he sat on my lap at two and a half years old.

Now he is a college sophomore, eager to debate public policy with his dad, refusing to accept any policy decision we reach. Frances Anne and I are so very, very proud of him.

Also here today is my grandfather, Jerry Church who, along with my grandmother, just had such a tremendously positive influence on my early life struggles. And I am so pleased that he is with us. With him here today is his wife, Mary.

There is also an empty chair here with one rose on it. It is symbolic of our remembering Frances Anne's mother, Pat, and her father, former State Senator George Hughes. Senator Hughes served in the General Assembly for 10 years, during the 1950's and the 1960's, and held the position of Minority Leader. Interestingly, way back then, he bravely led the early struggle for civil rights in this State.

The rose is also in memory of my brother, Bruce, who is no longer with us.

He died of AIDS. One of my legislative battles this year will be in his name and his memory. We honor these people and so many others who could not be with us with fond memories and we are certain that they are with us in spirit here today.

As Kathleen and I take our oaths of office for the second time, the only words that can fully express our gratitude today are simple ones...thank you. Thank you, thank you so very much. From President Clinton, the First Lady, and the Vice-President of the United States who enlisted in our campaign; to every member of a team that fought for Maryland; to every citizen who joined in our cause; we can only say that we are honored and humbled by the trust that you have placed in us...and we will do our best to deserve that trust.

This was not a victory of individuals, or merely a victory of a party. It does not belong to Kathleen and me, but to each and every one of you. It was, above all else, a victory for ideals.

We stood for the high aspiration that was once expressed by Kathleen's father, Robert Kennedy. He said: "We must recognize the full human equality of all our people before God, before the law, and in the councils of government. We must do this, not because it is economically advantageous, although it is; not because the laws of God command it, although they do. We must do this for the single and fundamental reason that it is the right thing to do." Here today, we also pledge ourselves to this vision of full equality for the overriding reason that it is right...the right way to live, and the right way to govern.

Now, we stand on the threshold of a new time, at the last Inaugural of the 20th century, and the first Maryland Administration of the 21st century. This moment in history calls on us to renew our ideals, and to strive with all of our strength to make Maryland the Free State in reality as well as words.

Tomorrow, in the State of the State address, I will offer more details on our many programs and policies that, over the next four years, will reduce class size, enable us to hire more qualified teachers for our children, and ensure that all who earn the right to go to college can do so.

I will also propose how we will attract and maintain jobs, deal with gun violence, and ensure that Marylanders get the health care and medicines that they need.

Additionally, I will address how we will work to protect the rights of the hard working men and women of this state government.

But today is a day in which we ask the fundamental questions that must underlie all of our answers: What kind of society, what kind of people, do we aspire to be as we go into this new century? What ought we to be, as a people, and as a society? I see three great challenges before us. First, we must invest in education to liberate the potential of every person, so that all can learn more and earn more. In doing so, we will raise the standard of life in the knowledge-based economy of the future which we have already entered. In the next decade and the next generation, those who lack access, full access to learning will fall behind.

In earlier times, the barrier to opportunity was the ignorance of overt discrimination. There are many in this audience whose parents or grandparents saw the signs that said, "No Irish Need Apply" or "Whites Only." They were people who knew what it was like to be locked out because they were women, or Polish, or prayed in a different way. Today the greatest barrier to opportunity is ignorance itself, not simply falling short in the basics, but failing to excel. I pledged four years ago that this would be the education Administration. We have kept our commitment. We have built thousands and thousands of new classrooms, reduced class size, and raised test scores with a program that has become a model for the nation.

But I say to you here today: We have only just begun. In the next four years, we will build more, invest more, do more to raise standards, expect more in our classrooms, and make teaching a more rewarding and honored profession. We will sustain and strengthen our commitment to match the potential of our economy to the potential of our people. We will encourage new businesses and, working with our colleges and universities, we will make Maryland a high tech center of the world. We will help create the jobs of the 21st century.

My fellow citizens, we stand on the threshold of greatness in education. We are preparing for a greater prosperity than we have ever known before. And if some people complain about the cost of education, let us reply: The cost of ignorance is far greater! We, in our time, in this state, are pledged to fulfill an enduring ideal, that quality education for all of us is the shining, golden door of opportunity. Let us make sure that door is open to all. Let this be the beginning of Maryland's century of truly universal learning.

Second, we must safeguard our environment...not just conserve it, but clean and restore what was lost in the past. Here, too, we can be proud of the progress that we have made. Starting with the leadership of Governor Hughes and Governor Schaefer, we have been the keepers of the Chesapeake Bay, the defenders of the rivers and streams against toxic Pfiesteria, the opponents of sprawl brought about by over-development, and the protectors of open spaces and clean air. And I say to you now: We have only just begun.

We reject the excuse that we have to abuse the environment in order to grow the economy. Lasting prosperity does not come from pollution. Rather, our prosperity depends on the natural wonders that have been and will be our greatest resource. Let every special interest know that this great common interest of ours is not for sale! We are not owners, but the stewards of the world God that made, and we are determined to pass it on better than we found it.

Just as we must carefully plan for and invest in our capital infrastructure our roads, our bridges and water lines, we must also invest in our environment, our green infrastructure our forests, our wetlands, our streams and our rivers. And just as we carefully plan for and invest in the human infrastructure education, health services, care for the elderly and disabled we must also invest in our green infrastructure. At the dawn of the 21st century, let us act with foresight and without favoritism, so that our grandchildren's grandchildren can breathe clean air; sail and fish the wonderfully alive Chesapeake Bay; and see the best of this land preserved from the mountains to the shore. Let this be the beginning of Maryland's century of the environment.

Third, we must become, truly and finally, one state and one people, with equality and justice for all. This is an age-old dream, but it is far from the experience of our age. Yet now it is our necessity as well as our ideal.

Maryland is increasingly a mosaic of many different colors, cultures, and religions. The inescapable obligation and the great opportunity of the 21st century will be embracing and celebrating our diversity, and drawing strength from it.

We came into office inspired by the poet Markham as our ideal. He said very simply: "He drew a circle that shut me out Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in."

By making our circle larger in our first term, we achieved an Administration that looks more like Maryland. We advanced equal rights for minorities, and for the majority who are women. And unlike the tide of recent years, we have always vigorously supported civil rights. But I say to you now: We have only just begun.

We must not only live together, we must come together in common purpose and respect. We must truly become a compassionate, caring society. We cannot do this through laws alone, although we will enforce them and widen their reach.

We must also require strong leadership, and that comes not just from leaders, but also from within each and all of us. There is always a new rationalization for discrimination against some group. There is always a reason to retreat, a temptation to be tired. Let us decide, as individuals and as a society, to live what we have learned: That all of us are brothers and sisters. We all share the same joys and sorrows. And, we are both a better and stronger people if we are genuinely united, not separated out according to the shade of our skin, or the tenets of our faith, or gender, or economic class, or sexual orientation. Let this be the beginning of Maryland's century of diversity.

It is an honor to lead a state like Maryland into the next century, to work in this historic State House where George Washington resigned his commission to become President. It is a privilege that I never could never have imagined as a child growing up in poverty. But I believe in the dream of opportunity and equality, and I now am determined to do my part to make it possible for everyone. I dream of an even better future for our son, Raymond, and for all of our sons and daughters, now and well into the next century. This demands innovative and ambitious programs, and I ask your support for those programs. But we must also ask something more of ourselves. We must ask not only how much do we have, but what should we become. We must ask not only what is in our budgets, but what is in our hearts. We must ask not only what do we want, but what ought we to be.

If we do not ask this of ourselves, then in the end, we will never achieve prosperity for all, and we will always risk the divisions and violence that could threaten any one of us. Think of the great tragedies in recent times. A black man dragged to his death on a Texas road. A young gay man beaten and left to die on a barbed wire fence in Wyoming. Government workers and their children bombed in a building in Oklahoma City. And countless acts of unfairness and injustice in our own communities, not just overt hate crimes, but quiet crimes of the heart. We must and will continue to combat violence, to strengthen law enforcement, to take the guns out of the hands of the criminals. But even more, we must and we will seek a truly fair, just, inclusive society, with opportunity and civility for all.

I had a good friend and fellow Governor, Lawton Chiles, who said in his Inaugural Address: "I didn't come here to stay; I came to make a difference." In 1999, we do not come here simply to hold office. We come to uphold the belief that we can live together, work together, and advance together in a new time lit up by the constant flashes of change.

Kathleen and I invite all Marylanders to join with us now in this great endeavor. We begin anew with high hopes, hard work, and this guiding resolve: We will unleash the potential of every person. We will sustain and enhance our environment. And, calling on what is the best in our history and ourselves, we will truly become one people, one community, one Maryland.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless our work in the years ahead. We have indeed only just begun!!

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

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