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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Valedictory

Porcupine was able to attend the 'Lone Walk' of Governor Mitt Romney as he left the Massachusetts State House as Governor for the final time this evening. The tradition of a departing Governor making a "lone walk" down the 31 State House steps is more than 200 years old. Historical accounts indicate that Governor Increase Sumner was the first to take the "lone walk" in 1799. More recent stories say that in 1884 Governor Benjamin Butler walked the steps alone because he was so unpopular when he left office that no one would walk with him.Here, Governor and Anne Romney emerge from the open door of the State House, down the wide granite steps. This door and these steps are only used in three instances - for the current President of the United States, a visiting head of state and a departing Governor.
About halfway down the staircase, Gov. Romney stopped, and turned to wave at the reporters and staffers who were applauding on the balcony of the State House.

Romney joined others in not walking entirely alone. Governor, later President, Calvin Coolidge was followed at several paces by his friends, and Governor James Michael Curley's wife accompanied him on his walk in 1937. Governor Michael Dukakis was also joined by his wife in 1979. Porcupine was also there when Governor William Weld's well-wishers lined the steps and crowded the gates. Porcupine was also able to attend the unusual 'Lone Walk' of Governor, later Ambasador, Paul Cellucci. Because the State House was undergoing renovations, the front staircase was not available. Gov. Cellucci performed the traditional exchange of the symbols of office with Jane Swift at the top of the interior marble Grand Staircase, and walked down that alone. Later, Governor Swift's family, departing staff and some legislators walked with her, and well-wishers lined the steps and crowded the gates in January 2003, Porcupine among them.

And now, ending a sixteen year GOP run, Mitt omney. At a recent luncheon (Porcupine mentally noted at the time that this would probably be the last time in many years when the Governor would be adressing such a small crowd, and for no contribution to boot!), Governor Romney talked about what he wanted to have remembered about his tenure. First, he spoke about how proud he was of the John and Abigail Adams scholarships, and about how the test scores of young students have rebounded. For instance, in a nationwide analysis of fourth and eighth grade students, Massachusetts is number one - in English and in Math - in both fourth and eighth grade. No other state in the nation has ever acomplished this. "
I go to a state like Alabama", he said, "and they talk about how they are number 30, but will work their way up to 25. I'm sitting there, thinking - Our kids are Number 1! But you will never read that in the Boston Globe - instead, you will read about how our schools are in disarray." Secondly, his health care bill. Romney recalled the time line. He announced he was filing legislation in October, filed it the following March. The subsequent March, the Democrats filed another bill which was 95% the same - and they are trying to take credit for it. But it was his idea, and his priority. Lastly, the streamlining of government agencies. More than just the firing of Billy Bulger and the elimination of the snake-pit MDC, but a constant monitoring of how agencies were producing - with much help from Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey.

Mitt and Anne Romney then stopped at the head of the staircase leading down to the street, just above the huge wrought-iron gates. A band played an anthem (which began as 'Hail to the Chief (!) but which quickly morphed into the Washington Post March) as a nineteen gun salute was fired across the street on the Boston Common. They stood together, holding hands and smiling as they paused halfway down the staircase on their way to their great adventure.

2 Comments:

Blogger marci said...

Thank you for this beautiful account. I admire and respect our now former governor. I think he has been the best governor I have ever lived under in this state.

On a humorous note, I want to see the looks on the faces of the Massachusetts boards of selectmen and school committees outside Boston when Gov. Patrick makes good on his promise of universal mandatory preschool and full-day kindergarten. I have worked on prop. 2.5 overrides several times, and I know how people feel about being forced to fork over money in this manner. It will be funny to watch their faces.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Howdy, Peter. That sounds like a nice event for a good governor.

10:38 PM  

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