Thank you very much Attorney General Sachs. I want to thank you not only for your kind introduction, . . . but also for your years of service to the people of Maryland . . . and for your thirteen years of mentoring me.
Governor and Mrs. Ehrlich, former Governors in attendance today, President Miller, Speaker Busch and my colleagues in the General Assembly, distinguished guests, and fellow Marylanders. Thank you all for being here this afternoon.
Governor Martin O'Malley and First Lady Katie O'Malley, thank you for showing us the importance of family values,… and thank you for giving me and Patty the opportunity to continue to serve the people of Maryland as Lieutenant Governor.
To my wife Patty, I want to thank you for being the most loving and supportive person in my life . . . and for being such a wonderful mother to our children . . . Rebecca and Jonathan.
To my sister and three brothers — thank you for being here today with your families.
I would like to thank my parents… who have always stood with me, and who, through their unwavering support and encouragement, have made today possible.
Like so many others, . . . my parents came to this country — my father from Jamaica, . . . my mother from Switzerland — in search of a better life and greater opportunities. They found both in America.
And as new Americans in this land of hope and possibility, . . . my parents taught me some of life's most important lessons: love of country, . . . service to others, . . . and integrity above all.
I remember many evenings sitting around the kitchen table with my parents, my sister and my three brothers. These conversations became life-long lessons that have molded our character.
During my year-long journey across Maryland, . . . with Martin and so many of you, . . . I noticed the lessons that I learned from my parents are the very same lessons being taught at kitchen tables all across this State.
While the challenges and opportunities experienced by families may differ, . . . the dedication to each other and to service are the same in Cumberland . . . as they are in Cambridge . . . as they are in my beloved Prince George's County.
And that's the same dedication and spirit that I see today:
It's a spirit possessed by the belief that success in life is measured in service to others.
It's a spirit that summons us to serve others before we serve ourselves.
And it's a spirit that animates the incredible sacrifices of everyday people – people who believe that our children should grow up in a better Maryland.
We build a better Maryland when we serve the people of Maryland,…
It's the teacher who serves in the classroom – choosing to develop the creative potential of our children, . . . and to build a foundation for the future.
It's the small business owner who serves in our community – choosing to invest in our workforce, . . . and to provide opportunities to our neighbors.
It's the soldier who serves in our Armed Forces – choosing to protect our State and nation, . . . and to secure a future where our families are free.
These are the men and women of Maryland. And they are all of you here today. . . a day that marks a new beginning, . . . a renewed civic commitment, . . . and a brand-new partnership.
For the past eight years, I've had the privilege and the honor to serve in the General Assembly with dedicated men and women from all parts of our State.
In times of trial – big and small – we were always guided by our belief, . . . as Marylanders, . . . that progress requires partnership – partnerships that understand that compromise is not easily achieved, . . . but always possible… and necessary for progress.
And that those partnerships – between the Governor and General Assembly, state and local governments, public and private institutions – are the only way forward.
Built on mutual respect and understanding, strong partnerships allow us to debate, . . . to innovate, . . . and to bring out the best in each other.
It is that belief in partnership that we rely on today as we prepare to embark on this journey as One Maryland.
At its very heart, . . . it is a journey that brings us closer to fulfilling the American Dream.
A dream, . . . as my parents taught me, . . . that you can accomplish anything with hard work and determination.
A dream that recognizes that success can only be realized through our willingness to seek the common ground.
A dream that compels us to act on the convictions of our heart, . . . and the content of our thoughts . . . thoughts that are shaped by our shared values and beliefs. . . .
It is a dream that we hold dear in Maryland.
As we move forward together, we remember that it is our responsibility to forge this partnership on our understanding that we all , . . . in our own way, . . . serve the people of Maryland – that we all can make a difference.
And we remember , . . . in the words of Dr. Marian Wright Edelman, “We must not, . . . in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, . . . ignore the small daily differences we can make . . . which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”
Today we begin the important work of the people of Maryland. And while tomorrow is inevitable – our ability to come together, . . . as partners in progress – is not.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men [and women] willing to be co-workers with God.”
The kind of Maryland we leave to our children is dependent on us. It is our responsibility to unlock the promise of our State – through compromise, commitment and service.
The road ahead is not necessarily an easy path. Regardless of the difficulties, we have great opportunities because we have great challenges.
And together, we will meet those challenges with our greatest strengths – the will, the power, the diversity, and the spirit of the people of Maryland.
In the end, the “tireless effort and persistent work” of building One Maryland rests with us all .
Walk good , my fellow Marylanders — and may good walk with you.
God bless the people of Maryland.