Eric Greitens promised Missourians Monday he and his new administration are ready "to do the people's work" and turn the Show-Me State in a new direction.Gallery: Festival of One Act Plays
"The people have spoken, and a new direction has been decided," the new governor said, just minutes after taking his oath of office at noon. "For decades, Missourians have talked about change. Now, it's time to fight for that change."
He acknowledged the fight won't be easy.
"No one imagines that all of these battles will be won overnight, over four years or even eight. But we begin today," Greitens said. "There are big fights ahead for big things - our new administration won't back down because of political pressure or political correctness.
"This does not mean that we will agree on everything. In fact, we should not agree on everything."
During Monday morning's Interfaith Prayer Service, Bishop Ron Webb of the Mount Calvary Powerhouse Church in Poplar Bluff urged Greitens not to pay attention to his critics.
During his 10-minute inaugural address, Greitens noted the biblical book of Proverbs "reminds us, 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.' The Lord put each of us here for a purpose. Sometimes, the purpose of our opponents is to be our teachers.
"Yet, even as we fight for our convictions, we resolve that the greatest conviction is to love our neighbors as ourselves."
He promised: "Our ears will be open to reason, our eyes alert to new facts. We will go to work with humble hearts, and we will extend our hand in friendship to all those who will take it."
However, Greitens said, those who would commit violence, assault a law enforcement officer, steal from the needy or abuse a child "will feel the might, strength and resolution of the firm fist of justice."
Greitens, a Republican, won last November's election with 1,433,397 votes - a 156,037-vote margin over Democrat Chris Koster.
"As governor, I will always remember why you sent me here and what you expect from me," Greitens said. "I will be loyal to your needs and priorities, not to those who posture or pay for influence.
"I answer to the people, and I come as an outsider to do the people's work."
He said Missouri's history "reminds us that Missourians don't much value big talk," and "Missourians have always understood that big achievements demand hard work."
He pointed to a number of Missouri-based accomplishments, including the nation's westward expansion from St. Louis and Kansas City, and that the first mile of the Interstate highway system was built in St. Charles.
"It was people of Missouri who believed that a human being (Charles Lindbergh) could fly across the Atlantic Ocean, alone," Greitens said. "And it was Missourians (at McDonnell-Douglas, now Boeing) who built the capsule in which an American first orbited the earth."
He noted Missourians long have "proven that the worst in our history can be overcome by the best in our people."
Greitens acknowledge "the people do not expect miracles, but they do expect results. And we will deliver."
Greitens' inauguration as Missouri's 56th governor occurred almost flawlessly Monday.
The B-2 Stealth Bomber flew over the Capitol before the governor finished taking his oath of office.
For some, it was a bit too cold and cloudy - although it was a warmer day than Jay Nixon's second inauguration four years ago, or Matt Blunt's ceremonies 12 years ago.
And there were flashes of sunshine during the ceremony.