Actually, that's a play on words because I just noticed that my last post was number one hundred. But having attended the swearing in of Governor Deval Patrick, I feel like we ARE in a new century in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Thursday was a day to "keep hope alive" as the Almighty cooperated and gave us a mild day on which to stand outside and witness history. The best decision I made was to show up at the Old South Meeting House and get a seat at the prayer service that preceded the inauguration. The procession of clergy, highlighted by a Native American in full dress feathers, was spectacular, and included virtually every faith tradition you could imagine. Peter Gomes, Harvard chaplain, and recent Republican, gave the main remarks which were punctuated with humor, hope and inspiration. The music was nothing less than spectacular.
Getting to the Statehouse grounds one hour ahead of time proved to be timely enough to be within a few hundred feet of the podium. And it is not too much to say that while Deval was giving his Inaugural address, the clouds parted and the sun came out! I am NOT MAKING THIS UP! And inspirational he was. I will not go into detail about his speech -- you can read it on the internet -- but his announcement that he was changing state government, and that an 80+ year old frail elder had not walked down and back six flights of stairs for us to just give her same old, same old, was the highlight of the day.
Ben Downing was up on the platform in a blue shirt and red tie and looking every inch the Senator. When someone in the crowd (who must have been a State Government groupie and/or employee) said she couldn't remember the name of the new Senator from the Berkshires, I told her it was Ben Downing. "He's a great guy," I said. "He beat me in a primary." One of the people listening said "If his opponent says that, he must be a great guy!" (Note to pol-watchers: Chris Hodgkins and his lovely wife were seen at the Inaugural Ball. Rumors that he has left the state are obviously not true.)
We saw more of Dorchester Avenue than we had planned while trying to find Amrhein's in South Boston, but we had a great dinner with the O'Brien clan and ran into State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli and State Senator Jack Hart so it was obviously the place to see and be seen. Except for the big do, which was $100/person, but TO WHICH I WAS ACTUALLY INVITED. Next time, when I can take it as a business expense.
Yes, everything they said about it being too crowded and having to wait in lines to get upstairs (we'd been upstairs and went downstairs to get a seat -- bad move but necessary with aging backs....) but we did see Deval, Diane, Tim and Tammy up on stage dancing and the best line of the evening was "Someone told me that this was the most integrated event they'd ever attended." (Pause for effect) "Well, get used to it!" Hee Haw! The African-American community in the Commonwealth was out in force, celebrating an amazing experience that many probably didn't think that they would see in their lifetimes. It was a sight to behold and hopefully will lead to lots more dialogue, partying and collaborations on behalf of the Commonwealth over the next decades.
And so to bed. And while getting into town proved a bit elusive, your humble servant deserves some credit for navigating herself and her spouse back to Andrew Square from the Convention Center with nary a wrong turn. See, I AM learning.....