Governor Greitens has been in office for a week. We’ve had time to absorb and assess the events of his big day last Monday and assemble a postscript of sorts to our long series about inauguration history to bring that series up to date and for reference by those who want to add to it for inauguration 2021:
Eric Greitens, the first governor of Missouri without previous elective office experience since Lloyd C. Stark eighty years previously, was inaugurated on an overcast blustery day with the temperature in the upper thirties and gusty winds that sometimes drove the wind chill index into single digits. The sun fought its way through the clouds early in the afternoon and warmed the then-empty Capitol south lawn into the forties.
Some different things were done by a governor who had promised in his campaign, and in his inaugural remarks that he would be a different kind of governor. There was no parade. None had been scheduled. It had been twenty years since there had been no parade. Governor Carnahan called off the 1997 parade and was inaugurated for his second term in the rotunda because of the severe cold. Governor Teasdale had cancelled his inaugural parade because of even more severe weather in 1977 although he held his ceremonies outside. Greitens said in 2017 the parade focused on politicians and he wanted his event to focus on people. Ceremony organizers said there wasn’t time to hold one because the incoming governor had as busy morning schedule that began with an interfaith prayer service across the street from the capitol at St. Peter Catholic Church. A reception in the rotunda, called Honoring Our Heroes, recognized about 150 teachers, law enforcement officers, veterans, farmers, and families of the fallen. They also had a special spot on the inaugural platform. After the swearing-in ceremonies, the new governor, as Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard, reviewed the troops—something not done in previous memory of these events.
The swearing-in ceremony had an emcee for the first time in memory who was not a legislative leader—Rodney Bullard, the Executive Director of the Chick-fil-A foundation, a personal friend of Greitens. Although Senate President pro tem Ron Richard convened the joint session of the House and the Senate, and concluded the event with the adjournment of the session, Bullard handled all of the introductions.
The other constitutional office-holders elected in November were sworn in ahead of the new governor (long ago, they were sworn in afterwards), including Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson, who had had bypass heart surgery just before Christmas. The National Guard Band from Springfield played a couple of numbers to fill the time between the inauguration of the Lieutenant Governor and the high noon inauguration of the Governor. Everything seemed to be on time for a change.
As Greitens completed his oath, a B-2 Bomber flew over the crowd, flying from east to west.
Christopher Bond, Missouri’s oldest living former governor, was among those in attendance.
Security was tight. This reporter went through three separate wandings before the ceremony. The day after the event, metal detectors were in operation inside the building at two location.
Greitens’ inaugural address grew out of his military background, his interest in history, and his previous lack of involvement in politics. He promised to be a governor of the people, not of the political system, urged his fellow Republicans in overwhelming control of the legislature to listen to the other side (“Sometimes the purpose of our opponents is to be our teachers”) and concluded, “Let’s get to work.”
—which he did when he went into the governor’s office as the person in charge of it for the first time. He signed an executive order banning gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the executive branch of government.
About that same time, private citizen Jay Nixon and the state’s former first lady drove to their home in St. Louis County.
(Photo credits: Your faithful observer)