OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Brad Henry took the oath of office Monday to begin his second term as governor, proclaiming Oklahoma as a state of prosperity that is entering its centennial year with unmatched momentum.
Henry, 43-year-old Democrat, took the oath from his cousin, 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert Henry, a former Oklahoma attorney general.
Henry, the state's 26th governor, said Oklahoma was fueled by a spirit of adventure, optimism and fearlessness when it became a state in 1907 and that spirit continues today.
“Despite a rocky road, the optimism of our forebears has triumphed, said the chief executive, only the third Oklahoma governor to be re-elected.
“Oklahoma is a state with unmatched momentum, Brad Henry said after being sworn on the Bible of his father, the late former state Rep. Charles Henry, on a chilly, windy but sunny day.
First lady Kim Henry and the first couple's three daughters looked on, along with more than 1,000 others who gathered on the Capitol's south steps, according to an estimate by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Former Govs. David Boren and George Nigh were on the platform.
“We've worked hard and 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, Henry said.
“Today Oklahomans are meeting bold new challenges and ascending to brave new heights. We are a state of prosperity, 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.
Henry's speech highlighted a colorful inauguration ceremony that included a 19-gun salute, an F-16 flyover, presentation of colors by the Kiowa Black Leggings Society, the reading of the Centennial Poem by N. Scott Momaday, songs by the Ambassador's Concert Choir and the singing of the National Anthem by Metropolitan Opera soprano Leona Mitchell. Rachel Goff, Miss Langston 2006, was master of ceremonies.
The three Henry daughters - Leah, Laynie and Baylee - led the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Oklahoma's other statewide elected officials also took the oath of office, including Lt. Gov. Jari Askins. They were sworn in by Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice James Winchester and Vice Justice Jim Edmondson.
Henry, who was sworn in at about noon, said Oklahomans should dream and act boldly in setting the groundwork for progress in the next 100 years.
He envisioned a state with the finest schools in the country, the best and most affordable health care and a place where families thrive and businesses prosper.
He paid tribute to the character of the state's 3.5-plus million citizens.
“We are a diverse people. This land, whose name comes from the Choctaw word for “land of the red people, is inexorably bound with American Indian culture. That legacy is a profound one. Oklahoma today is home to more federally recognized tribes than any other state in the nation - one reason more languages are spoken within the borders of our state than in all of Europe.
“We are a devout people. Oklahomans attend a house of worship at nearly double the national average. In times of joy and challenges alike, we draw strength and inspiration from our unwavering faith. It keeps us grounded and it uplifts us as well.
He said Oklahomans are compassionate, charitable and still revere neighborliness despite the increasingly frantic pace of the 21st Century.
“We are a bold and ingenious people. Oklahoma's own Will Rogers once noted, Sometimes you've got to go out on a limb, since that's where the fruit is,' Henry said.
“It's a lesson Oklahomans took to hear long ago, as the boldness and ingenuity of our people led to innovations from the desktop computer and the space suit to the shopping card and voice mail, he said. “The pioneering creativity of Oklahomans produced paradigm shifting advances in oil and gas extraction and even pathfinding designs in prosthetics.
Henry said when he was sworn in four years ago the state government faced its biggest revenue shortfall in history. At the time, he said it was not in the state's character to fail and predicted it would emerge from hard times stronger than ever.
“Well, we certainly didn't fail. In fact, through historic bipartisan cooperation, we emerged from the crisis in better shape than ever before. And we accomplished much together during the next four years. But now it's time to push the envelope. Now, it's time to dream bigger than ever before.
“Now is the time to chart a course for Oklahoma's zenith, he said. “Now is the moment to embrace the exciting opportunities before us and take bold action.
Askins, a Democrat like Henry, replaces Republican Mary Fallin, who was elected to Congress. Fallin succeeded Republican Rep. Ernest Istook, who was defeated by Henry in the gubernatorial election in November.