Everything is bigger in Texas, and inauguration ceremonies are no exception.
Thousands of Texans made the pilgrimage to the capitol in Austin Tuesday morning to witness the inauguration of the first new governor Texas has seen in 14 years. Greg Abbott became the 48th governor of Texas and Dan Patrick became the 72nd lieutenant governor while surrounded by supporters and family. The Oath of Office ceremony began promptly at 11 a.m. with songs played by the Longhorn Marching Band fluttering throughout the mall of the capitol.
Patrick was sworn into office by his son Ryan, who is a Houston state district judge. Patrick took to the podium after officially becoming lieutenant governor to speak on his goals for the future. Before getting started, Patrick turned his back to the crowd to take a photo, saying he took so many “selfies” throughout the campaign he couldn’t miss the opportunity to take one at the inauguration.
“I stand here today making a commitment to every person in Texas and the Senate that I will be a humble servant first and foremost,” Patrick began.
One of the promises Patrick made was to protect the second amendment. This issue was brought to light when gun rights activists took to the capitol last week on the opening day of the 84th Legislature.
Support for Texas’ law enforcement was another theme Patrick touched on, discussing his pride to stand with the protectors of the state. He said part of law enforcement workers’ job is to commit their lives to defend the citizens of Texas.
“This is not New York,” Patrick said, referencing the recent racial issues happening in New York. “This is Texas.”
Patrick left the stage as the official Lt. Gov., saying it was a new day for the state of Texas.
Speaker of the House Joe Straus moved the ceremony along and was followed by Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, who administered the oath for Abbott.
Abbott noted in the first official minutes of governorship he shared success with “a woman of genuine warmth and character”—his wife, Cecilia. Cecilia made history Tuesday as the first-ever Latina First Lady of Texas. Fatherhood helped Abbott to achieve his current success, he said.
“I am honored to be the Texas Governor, but the title that means the most to me is that of ‘dad,’” Abbott said and cited Audrey, 18, as an example of what the future of Texas has to offer.
Abbott faced many hardships on his journey to becoming the governor of Texas.
“Let’s face it—this moment was highly improbable,” Abbott said.
Thirty years ago Abbott was paralyzed after a tree fell on him when he was running, leaving him in a wheelchair. Abbott got better after the accident thanks to the grace of God and Texas, he said.
“Texas is the place where the improbable becomes possible,” Abbott said. “I am living proof that we live in a state where a young man’s life can literally be broken in half and he can still rise up to be governor. Texas is truly the land of opportunity.”
An English teacher from Duncanville High School was in attendance to watch Abbott, her former student, become governor. Making Texas a leader in education is an important part of Abbott’s term as governor. Job creation depends of education, he said. Abbott thanked all of the teachers in the “great state of Texas” after honoring his English teacher from years ago.
Patrick pledged to fight to give low-income families a better choice in schools. He said better education opportunities are important for the legacies of families and the state.
The 2015 Texas Inauguration ended with the thousands in attendance on their feet applauding the newly elected officials. Four tons of brisket were served for lunch on the lawn of the capitol for everyone, including those who traveled far to be a part of Texas’ history.
Patricia Howell, Houston resident and public relations consultant, scheduled to take a day off of work and drove two hours from Houston one day early to attend the festivities. Donning a Texas-flag button-down shirt, Howell said she was happy to be part of such a historic day for the state.
“I have to be here,” Howell said. “I have to be a part of it.”
Another citizen passing by asked Howell how she was in such a good mood.
“How can you not be?” Howell said.