Second Inaugural Address of Governor Sonny Perdue 8 January 2007
Before I begin my remarks today, I would like to ask three gentlemen to join me at thepodium….the former governors who are present with us today, Governor Carl Sanders,Governor Joe Frank Harris and Governor/Senator Zell Miller.
Ladies and gentlemen, not too many years ago, a man traveled to and fro across this state tellingeveryone who would listen a folksy story about a turtle on a fencepost. The point of the storywas that if you drive down the road and see a turtle on a fencepost, then you can be assured thatturtle didn't get there by himself…that he had help.
On behalf of a grateful state, I want to ask our audience to stand with me as we acknowledge thatyou all helped put Georgia on a high…high fencepost.
My fellow Georgians, I stand before you once more, as I did four years ago, humbled by history .. . lifted by your support. It is an incredible honor to be playing my small part in a long line ofgreat Georgians.
The 13th original colony. The fourth state to ratify the US Constitution.
Birthplace of Girl Scouts Founder Juliette Gordon Low . . . author Margaret Mitchell and thatgreat philosopher, Lewis Grizzard. . . golf legend Bobby Jones and baseball pioneer JackieRobinson . . President Jimmy Carter, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas . . . and theReverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Georgia has a long, proud, distinguished history. And I am honored that the people of this statehave allowed me to be a part of this history for four more years.
We are here today reaffirming our faith in a tested covenant – the simple truth that governmentexists to serve the governed, and the state to serve the will of the people.
I took this same oath of office four years ago, and I spoke to you then of a new Georgia – aneducated, healthy, safe and growing Georgia.
We boldly struck out on the path toward those achievements and we overcame great challengesalong the way.
Over these last four years, Georgia has been tested. . . and Georgians have risen to meet everytest.
We have been tested by difficult economic times. Though the skies looked dark in 2003, throughthe enterprise and determination of Georgians, a brighter day dawned in our state.We have been tested by the demands of war. We are proud to shoulder more than our fair sharein freedom's fight. Because of the service and sacrifice of our citizen soldiers, our state shines asa model of valor across the land.
We have been tested by the forces of nature itself. When the floodwaters of Katrina drove ourneighbors into our arms, Georgians met them with a compassion and love that rose far above thewaters of the storm.
And we have met daily tests of character and strength – not as dramatic as war or naturaldisaster, but no less important.
We care for our children, preparing them to meet the challenges of the future. . . we create jobsfor Georgians across the state . . . we protect the legacy of our natural environment . . . and webuild our communities, creating a safe and healthy place to live.
Our state rose to meet these trials – big and small, enduring and fleeting alike – and emergedstronger every time.
There will be more to come – more tests, more challenges. . . and in them… more opportunities.Because in this great state, home to nine million hardworking, industrious people, there is alwaysthe promise of a better tomorrow.
I am humbled and honored to stand here once more as your Governor. The responsibility youhave placed before me is awesome.
And I am proud to have been given the opportunity to continue moving our state forward, tocreate the momentum we need to lead in the 21st century.
I have a vision for Georgia as a state of the future. In fact, it's a vision for the possibilities thatawait us in the year 2020 – a 20/20 vision. And, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to look at this as a“State of the Future” address.
When I gave an inaugural speech four years ago, we didn't have the luxury of looking at thefuture. We were focused on the more urgent needs of the present. We had to start at thebeginning to get our state back on track.
I think of my grown son, when he was about 5 years old, putting on a shirt for church. Hemissed his first buttonhole, so all the rest of them were off. He tried again, and after his thirdattempt failed, he was frustrated – “it won't turn out!” he yelled.
My wife Mary is one of the most patient people I know – and I would like to thank her for herenduring support, counsel, and love.
She has taught me much about life, not the least of which is unconditional love. That day, shecalmly replied . . . “son, it'll turn out right, but only if you get the first one right.”Well, that's what we did in the last four years – we went back and got the first one right. We laidthe foundation, set ourselves up for everything else to turn out.
Now with our state on solid footing, we can look clearly to tomorrow and see where we want ourstate to be 5, 10 or 20 years from now. Georgia has all the ingredients for greatness. Andtogether we can make that vision come alive.
We've already begun our travels down the path toward greatness.
Where bureaucracy and red tape weighed us down, business-like efficiency and streamlined,friendly services have emerged.
Where Georgians once may have resigned themselves to last in the nation, today we're movingahead, passing education and economic milestones every day.
Great government is about stewardship. I believe we all have a responsibility to leave thingsbetter off than we found them. Stewardship means you keep an eye on the horizon – you look tothe future to make your decisions today.
When Mary and I became parents, stewardship took on a new importance.
When we looked on our four precious children, we were strengthened with resolve to bring themup in a world that was even better than the one we grew up in. And with each new grandchildbrought into this world, that feeling intensifies.
In the year 2020, my twin granddaughters Sunni and Mary Kate will be 20 years old.
And just like any grandparent, or parent, or aunt or uncle, I want them to enter their 20's with anexcellent education. I want them to have learned in small classes and safe classrooms, under theinstruction of capable teachers who have access to all the resources and tools they need.
I think it goes without saying that in 2020 I want them to have graduated from high school. Butthat's not enough. I want all their friends where they live in Clarkesville – and all the 7 year oldboys and girls across the state to have graduated from high school, too.
I'd like them to continue their world-class education here in Georgia, on the HOPE scholarship,at top-notch universities and technical schools that are leading the world in life science researchand bioscience technology.
I want them to have here in Georgia all the opportunities they could find in places like New Yorkor London or Tokyo. I hope they travel the world and learn from other cultures and peoples –but I hope they return to Georgia, because I want our state to offer them the best promise for abright future.I want those twins in 2020 to have their choice of careers. I see them as aerospace engineers . . .cutting edge cancer research scientists. . . world class nanotech biomedical engineers.I see them as teachers like my mother, instilling a desire for life-long learning in thousands ofyoung people.
And I see them landing in the world's busiest airport, coming home to their families in aninternational center of business and finance.
Mary and I are blessed with a large, loving extended family. Not just our four children and sixgrandchildren, but aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews. . . and not just theeight babies we cared for while they were awaiting adoption.
But we have a calling to care for every child in Georgia. This is not just a vision for mygrandchildren – this is a vision for your grandchildren, for Georgia's grandchildren.
And I want these opportunities to be available to all the future generations of our state.
That's what stewardship is – I plan on handing over to the next Governor a state that's even better off than the one we live in today.
So I remain committed to securing Georgia's status as the single best-managed state. I envisionher as an international leader.
You may know we've begun running the state like a business.
Well, I want Georgia to be a business that, if we were traded on the New York Stock Exchange,would be recognized as a blue chip, stable, long term growth company and rewarded with a highmarket value.
Georgia has made great progress – and that progress has been steady and measured over the lastfour years.
This is the kind of growth you may not notice right away – it's gradual, incremental – it's a lotlike the way kids grow taller over the span of a few months.
It's their haircuts you'll notice – both the ones that come from a professional barber and the onesthey give each other.
But I'll tell you what – you notice the change in Georgia when you renew your driver's licenseonline in minutes. Or when a state government help line is answered promptly and politely. Orwhen you receive your tax refund quickly and electronically.
Georgia is growing into a position of national leadership. Our population is increasing . . . oureconomy is strengthening . . . our resources are protected.We are going from good to great – working on the transparency and accessibility of our healthcare system, working on providing a high quality education for every Georgian.
Now, I'm often asked, ”what is your mandate? What will be your legacy?”
I believe my mandate is simple: to be a good steward of the state and a faithful servant to thepeople.
And the only legacy I seek is the same one any parent or grandparent seeks: to hand off ourstate, our home, to the next generation in better shape than we found it.
This legacy won't be achieved by executive order or sweeping legislation. This legacy will bethe sum of individual actions – it will be the result of Georgians deciding to make a difference.
Today's Georgia is large and growing larger. Georgians come from all sorts of backgrounds,races, cultures and creeds – with many different aspirations. But there are some things we allhave in common.
We share a belief in a great legacy, the American dream. The belief that in this land ofopportunity, we can raise our children to fulfill their most hopeful ambitions.
That we may take responsibility and we may take action – that regardless of our starting point,we are free to create fruits of our labors and free to succeed in this greatest of lands.
Although some may think we should, I think most of you'll agree with me that state governmentcannot control the weather. State government can – and should—however, act as an umbrella.
Just like yesterday, we all hit rainstorms and downpours, and that's what government is there for.
But on a sunny day like today, it should be out of the way, not weighing you down or blockingout the sun's rays.
Well folks, the days ahead are bright – we have a rosy forecast. We are on a path to national andinternational leadership.
And in the end, while I am the one who takes this oath today, when we leave this place, yourresponsibility is as sacred as mine.
The hard work and determination of the people of Georgia will play the greatest part in buildingthe future of our state.
I am making a solemn pledge and commitment to every Georgian to ensure that the foundationfor the future is in place, rock-solid, and secure.
But we will build the state of the future together. I've seen over and over that strong familiesand strong communities are the backbone of our state.In 2011 there will be another person standing here – possibly someone in this room – with his orher hand on the Bible, taking the oath of office and becoming our next Governor.
I want to hand off a well-run state . . . one whose principles will endure beyond a change ofleadership . . . one whose children are at the top of their national class. . . one who is operatingwith strong, conservative fiscal policies . . . and one who is moving forward with momentum.Today we continue our journey.
We look to the future, supported by our record and sustained by our faith.
Together we will strengthen our families and communities.
We will raise expectations and create opportunities for our children and grandchildren.Together we have already started building a New Georgia.
Let us continue . . . together . . . in this great state where wishes come true, dreams are fulfilled,and opportunities are abundant for all.
Thank you all. God bless you, and God bless Georgia.