In the year of Oklahoma’s centennial celebration, Gov. Brad Henry this morning took the oath of office to begin his second term as the state’s 26th governor. He used the occasion of his inaugural address to extol the character of Oklahomans and urge his fellow citizens to face the challenges ahead with strength, determination and confidence.
“Oklahoma today is a state with unmatched momentum,” he told a larger crowd gathered outside the south steps of the State Capitol. “We’ve worked hard, and we kept our resolve to build a brighter and stronger state. Together we have done great things. We are proud of our unique past and fearless about our extraordinary future.
“Today Oklahomans are meeting bold new challenges and ascending to brave new heights. We are a state of prosperity and creativity, of cutting-edge research and development, acclaimed and nationally recognized for our efforts in so many areas. Our determination is palpable; our potential is boundless.”
Gov. Henry, only the state’s third governor elected to serve two consecutive terms, noted that now is the time for Oklahomans to “dream big,” but to match those dreams with “dedication, tenacity and the boldness of action.”
The state’s centennial year, he continued, is an appropriate time to consider the Oklahoma that citizens want to leave for future generations. The Governor said he envisioned a land with the finest schools in the country; the best, most affordable health care in the nation; and a state where families thrive and businesses prosper.
In the same way that the Oklahoma of 1907 helped define the 100 years that followed, the Governor said, now is the time for Oklahomans to set the groundwork for the next 100 years.
“As we reflect on the last century and look forward to the next, we must not neglect this moment,” he said. “We can look to the past for inspiration, and we can look to the future with optimism, but it is in this moment, in our present momentum, that real work must be done. Now is the time for us to dream. Now is the time to chart a course for Oklahoma’s zenith. Now is the moment to embrace the exciting opportunities before us and take bold action.”
The inauguration marked a true family affair for Gov. Henry. Flanked by First Lady Kim Henry, he was sworn in by his cousin, U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert Henry. The Governor took the oath on his late father’s Bible. Earlier in the proceedings, Gov. Henry’s three daughters — Leah, Laynie and Baylee — led the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Miss Langston 2006, Rachel Goff, served as mistress of ceremonies that included a flag presentation by the Kiowa Warrior Black Leggings Society, a flyover by the Oklahoma Air National Guard and performances by opera singer Leona Mitchell, Pultizer Prize-winning poet N. Scott Momaday and the Ambassador Choir.