In a ceremonial program that included 150 members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Jon M. Huntsman Jr. was inaugurated as the 16th governor of Utah Jan. 3 at Salt Lake City's Abravanel Hall.
President Gordon B. Hinckley offered the benediction for the program, which included the swearing in of a slate of state officers: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer and auditor. The Rev. Michael A. Kouremetis, dean of the Greek Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral Prophet Elias Church in Salt Lake City, gave the invocation.
A grandson of the late Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve, Gov. Huntsman took the oath of office using a Bible that had belonged to his grandfather. On his paternal side as well, he has roots extending deep into the Mormon pioneer era in Utah, being a son of Elder Jon M. Huntsman, an Area Authority Seventy and a prominent industrialist and philanthropist. The Huntsman Hotel in the living-history village at This Is The Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City replicates an original structure of the 1870s that stood in the one-time territorial capital of Fillmore, Utah, and that belonged to the Huntsman family.
In his inauguration speech, the new governor alluded to his own and others' heritage, saying: "We are all here because of those who came before us: Most of us are a generation or two removed from the land, but we share a common heritage with those who farmed land not fit for farming, built magnificent structures with only their hands and hearts and risked their lives in dangerous mines so that their children could have a better life."
He said that regardless of origin or family background, Utahns share a bond, "a link to our past something that gives us purpose and a living frame of reference."
He mentioned his recently deceased Grandmother Ruby, the wife of Elder Haight, saying she "went from horse and buggy to the automobile to the airplane, to seeing a man walk on the moon, to the development of a microchip that can hold the history of all these events in an area smaller than a pinhead.
"As governor, I will not allow us to lose the valuable lessons from generations past. This state was built on opportunities the rugged individuals who put progress before self, who took extraordinary risks and who ventured eagerly into new frontier territories, all in the name of a better tomorrow."
In his prayer, President Hinckley invoked blessings on Gov. Huntsman as he takes over the reins of the governorship. "Thank Thee for those principles of government which have been affirmed this day under which we enjoy the blessings of liberty and peace," the Church president said.
The Tabernacle Choir which has a history of performances at inaugurations, both gubernatorial and U.S. presidential was accompanied by the 23rd Army Band of the Utah National Guard in performing "I Pledge Allegiance" (a musical setting composed by Charles Osgood for the Pledge of Allegiance), "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "America the Beautiful."
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