On Friday, December 14th, Libby was sworn in at the Arlington County Building for her first full term, starting January 1st. Thank you to all who attended, you can watch her swearing in below (video courtesy Clarendon Patch) and read the transcript of the full remarks after.
And thank you for everyone for coming. I am keenly aware that the only thing standing between you and your holiday weekend are my remarks here. I will be brief with some more thank you’s and just a few more words about what got us here.
But before I start, I am sure most of you know about the terrible shooting in Newton Connecticut today. 28 dead and 20 of them children. Our hearts go out to the people of Newton and the Sandy Hook Elementary School community. I like to have a moment of silence.
I want to especially thank my colleagues on both the County Board and the School Board for coming. Thank you to Mary Hynes for getting us started. And many thanks to all the elected officials here. Believe me, I know how busy you are and how many events you have to attend this time of year.
Thank you, too, to Barbara Donnellan and her staff, my new work family, and Patrick Murphy and his staff, the work family I left to come here. I know how very hard the two CEO’s of this County and their staff work. I was pretty sure the County staff works as hard as the school staff and they do. It never stops. You are the people that make Arlington the wonderful place that it is. That is a lot of very heavy lifting and it goes on 24/7 365 days a year. We cannot thank you enough.
Seeing as this is my second swearing in 9 months, people have already asked me how I like my job and I tell them I have having a blast. The work is fascinating, I learn something (often a whole lot) every day and I learn it from some of the best experts in their fields, both staff and citizens. I meet new people just about every day. Best of all, just like on the school board, at the local level of government, you can make a real immediate difference in people’s lives. A job simply does not get better than this.
As some of you know, growing up I lived in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois, Alberta Canada and Wisconsin, and a few months in New Hampshire. Every time I arrived at a new school system, they were studying… the American Revolution. Luckily, the American Revolution has always been my favorite part of history to study.
I have always loved history because of how it connects you to people who lived before and you can see how we are connected to those still to come. It makes you realize how we’re all part of something much bigger than ourselves.
So, lets go back, briefly, to Mr. Franklin’s time again, when this democracy of ours that made our gathering today possible, began. First, of course, back then I wouldn’t be getting sworn in: women couldn’t run for office and they couldn’t even vote. Most African Americans not only couldn’t run for office or vote, but they were slaves. Today Barack Obama has been re-elected and there will be a much bigger swearing in for him next month. We’ve come a very long way in a few hundred years.
We can be critical of people in the past for being hypocritical about what they meant when they spoke of “unalienable rights” but they did the job we all have to do: start at where you are and work to make things better. We’re lucky today, because now we just need to tweak the system, not have a revolution. Back in 1776, being an active, involved citizen was tough.
How many of you know what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Those men who signed and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor? I can tell you that for most of them, things did not end well.
5 signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.
12 had their homes ransacked and burned.
2 lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army;
Another had two sons captured.
9 of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
What kind of men were they? 24 were lawyers and jurists.
11 were merchants,
9 were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured. Those who survived lost everything.
And here we are today, comfortably celebrating what has become common place: yet another swearing in after an election. We are so lucky. But, in this comfortable simple event that has such significance for how we live, there is, I think, a caution. The same one Mr. Franklin gave: we have a Republic….. if we can keep it.
I worry sometimes that we are in danger of becoming too comfortable with our system and of taking things too much for granted. Our men and women in the armed services put their lives on the line every day. So do our police and fire. We owe them all a tremendous debt of gratitude for their work and sacrifice, which keeps us here safe and comfortable. And we owe them the best government we can provide. I pledge to you, and to them, to be the best County Board member I can be over the next 4 years.
Thank you again for coming.