JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's second term began with a chill. The air was 24 degrees on Monday as the governor took his oath of office. Earlier, he and the first lady rode in an inaugural parade to the Capitol, then watched as a variety of marching bands and other entrants passed by before they took their oaths of office and made speeches.
It was so cold that members of Nixon's administration had to clear frost and ice off the 3,840 folding chairs placed on the lawn of the Capitol for the outdoor inauguration ceremony. Heaters were placed under the raised stage from which Nixon spoke in order to keep state officials warm.
Audience members had to rely solely on their coats, hats and gloves. In part because of the weather, Nixon kept his inaugural remarks relatively brief.
The audience witnessed the oath of office for all the top elected officials of state government. Those include Nixon, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Secretary of State Jason Kander, Attorney General Chris Koster, and Treasurer Clint Zweifel. Kinder started his third term, the others started their second terms, and Kander started his first, replacing Robin Carnahan, who did not run for a third term.
Nixon took his second oath of office about five minutes late while waiting for bells at nearby St. Peter Catholic Church to signal noon.
Under Missouri law, the governor's four-year term starts at noon on the second Monday in January. When noon arrived on this particular Monday, the church bell rang just 11 times -- with long pauses between chimes -- as Nixon and other dignitaries waited on a platform on the Capitol steps. They finally went ahead with the swearing-in without a 12th chime.
The delay might balance Nixon's first inaugural. In 2009, Nixon was sworn in about five minutes early.
This year's inauguration was also celebrated with an artillery salute and a fly-over by four Apache Longbow helicopters from the Missouri National Guard.
Nixon drew upon Missouri's bloody history in the Civil War during his inaugural address to encourage Democrats and Republicans to come together for the common good. Nixon delivered the address after taking the oath of office at noon.
Nixon, a Democrat, will work with large Republican legislative majorities during his second term. He said Missouri has experienced far greater divisions in years past. He says officials can put "our shared principles ahead of small differences" to work together. Nixon says he is "more optimistic than ever about our future."
Nixon is the sixth governor to be elected to two terms since 1945. The others were Phil Donnelly, elected in 1944 and 1952; Warren Hearnes, elected in 1964 and 1968; Kit Bond, elected in 1972 and 1980 (and defeated in 1976); John Ashcroft, elected in 1984 and 1988; and Mel Carnahan, elected in 1992 and 1996.
Missourians changed the state Constitution in August 1965 to allow a governor to be elected to two consecutive terms, and Nixon is the fourth man to take advantage of that provision. The Constitution prohibits governors and auditors from serving more than two terms. Auditors are elected in the even-numbered years in which other statewide officeholders are not elected.
Nixon began his inauguration day in church hearing a message about helping those in need and listening to others. The governor, first lady Georganne Nixon and their family gathered on Monday morning with more than 100 others for a worship service at First Baptist Church near the Capitol.
The sermon focused on a passage from the gospel of Luke, in which Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan and then praises a woman for listening to him instead of being focused on work and chores.
The Rev. Daniel Hilty, of Nixon's home parish of First United Methodist Church, delivered the message. He said a life of public service requires a person to delve deeply into relations, and rely on the Lord.
Ten marching bands, including one from the governor's hometown of De Soto, joined Missouri's newly elected statewide officials in a parade through Jefferson City to the state Capitol. The Nixons rode in the bed of a red Ford F-150 truck.
Walking in the parade were Kinder, Koster, Zweifel and Kander. House Speaker Tim Jones and Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey also rode in the back of pickups.
A relatively small crowd bundled up against below-freezing temperatures as the parade wound past the Governor's Mansion to the Missouri River side of the state Capitol.
Text of Nixon's inaugural speech
Thank you, Judge Burlison. Thank you, President Pro Tem Dempsey and Speaker Jones.
Let me begin by thanking the people of Missouri for the privilege of serving a second term as your Governor. I am grateful and humbled that once again, you have given me the opportunity to lead our state forward.
I will honor the trust and confidence you have placed in me each and every day.
I'm joined today by Missouri's First Lady - my lovely wife, Georganne - our sons, Jeremiah and Will, and the rest of our family.
I'd like to welcome Missouri's former governors, our statewide office holders, members of the Missouri Supreme Court, legislators and the people of Missouri.
When I first came to the Capitol as a freshman senator from my hometown of De Soto, I was just 30 years old - the youngest person in the Senate.
I had the good fortune to serve with many thoughtful, dedicated and capable legislators on both sides of the aisle.
Then, as now, Republicans and Democrats were deeply committed to their beliefs.
Then, as now, we had a divided state government, with a governor of one party, and the other party holding a majority in the legislature.
Disagreement and debate were daily fare.
But it was possible to disagree, while continuing to advance the public good. Cooperation wasn't considered a sign of weakness, but rather a prerequisite for progress.
And progress is not partisan.
We understood that, first and foremost, we were all Missourians.
So no matter which way the pendulum of power might swing, or which way the political winds blew, our bedrock Missouri values of hard work, optimism, faith and compassion never wavered.
Those steadfast values have served the people of our state well for generations, and will serve us well for generations to come.
Now, some pundits like to say that politics in the Show-Me State has never been more partisan, more difficult than it is today.
But as history tells us, that's simply not true.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Missouri was bitterly divided in the struggle for our nation's survival - and its soul.
For a time, Missouri had two state governments, two state capitals and two governors.
Two state flags fluttered above the boys in blue and gray, the sons of farmers and cobblers, tinkers and slaves. They fought and died on blood-soaked ground from the Bootheel to the Iowa border.
They rose with valor and fell with honor at Liberty and Lexington, Carthage and Wilson's Creek, Boonville and Fredericktown.
Our newest state park commemorates the Battle of Island Mound, where the first African-American troops shed their blood for the Union in 1862.
Centralia was the site of an infamous massacre, when confederate guerrillas bushwhacked more than 100 Union soldiers and hacked them to ribbons. Taking part in the killing spree were two young brothers from Clay County: 20-year-old Frank and 16-year-old Jesse James.
Twelve of Missouri's governors served in the military during the Civil War.
That's right: twelve.
And for years after the war's official end, the suffering, retaliation and political struggles dragged on - crippling our economy, testing our resolve.
That my friends? That was hard politics.
But from that time forward the arc of Missouri history shows us that even the deepest divisions can be healed.
The people of Missouri are tough and resilient.
And generation after generation, a bold vision for the future and a passion for progress spur us forward.
We pushed back the wilderness, tilled the prairie and opened the western frontier.
We built railroads and highways, founded great universities and hospitals, tamed mighty rivers and even conquered space.
In good times and bad, through hellish drought and high water, the people of Missouri have proved their mettle. And, as we've seen these past few years, when our backs are against the wall, we come together:
When the American auto industry was on the ropes in 2009, we pulled together and got it back on its feet. More vehicles made in Missouri means thousands of jobs for hardworking folks in every corner of our state.
In a competitive and volatile global marketplace, we stepped up our game to set all-time records for exports in agriculture, biotech and defense - deals worth billions, creating prosperity at home.
When Mother Nature hit our neighbors with ice storms, floods, drought and the most devastating tornado in our history, we rallied to their side. We were there at every step - from rescue to rebuilding. And the strength and resilience of Missourians inspired the world.
History has left its indelible mark on our landscape, and our character.
But history is not destiny.
We do not inherit the future. We must build the future.
A future without limits:
Where all our children get an education that prepares them to compete for the best jobs in the global economy;
Where the brightest minds in science and technology advance the frontiers of human knowledge;
Where business and the arts flourish;
Where the bounty of Missouri's farms and fields will feed, clothe and power the planet;
And where the natural beauty of our state is preserved and cherished for all time.
I am more optimistic than ever about our future.
We will put our shared principles ahead of our small differences, and work together for the common good.
The people of Missouri deserve - and expect - no less.
And that is how I intend to lead.
Throughout my quarter century of public service, I've had the opportunity to visit with thousands of Missourians from all walks of life, in every corner of this great state.
Year after year, I've met them in the halls of this historic Capitol, exercising their First Amendment rights: midwives and math teachers; farmers and firefighters; Muslims and Mennonites; soldiers and Scouts.
They may not - and in fact do not - always agree.
But they are a vivid reminder that democracy is a chorus of many voices.
And our democracy and our state are stronger for it.
On days like this one, I can look out the windows of my office and see the flags of our state and our nation, their colors bright against the winter sky, the wide Missouri River in the distance.
It's a beautiful sight.
It is a reminder of the bold pioneers who walked this land before us, who explored the wilderness, who dedicated their lives to the creation of a more perfect union, who fought and died so that we might one day enjoy peace and prosperity.
I think, too, of the bold pioneers who someday will explore new frontiers beyond our imagining.
Today, I took a solemn oath to serve all the people of Missouri, to do everything in my power to make your lives better, and to make life better for our children and grandchildren.
I pledge my oath to the waitress pulling double shifts just to feed and clothe her kids, praying that nobody gets hurt or sick - because she can't afford a doctor's bill.
I pledge my oath to the battle-weary veteran, home from Afghanistan, who deserves a job worthy of his skills and sacrifice.
I pledge my oath to the farmer who plows and plants through flood and drought, year in and year out.
Hard working, God-fearing, decent folk.
I carry them in my heart.
Their strength gives me strength.
Their courage gives me courage.
And to live a life of service to the people of Missouri is my greatest honor.
Our time here is fleeting.
But the work we do will endure.
Together we can - and we will - build a bright future for the great state of Missouri in the greatest nation on earth.
May God almighty guide us in our work.
Thank you and God bless.