Amid soggy weather and tight security in response to Middle East tensions, William Donald Schaefer was sworn in today for his second and final term as Maryland's 58th chief executive.
As he did four years ago, Schaefer, 69, wore a dark business suit instead of the morning suit that state governors traditionally wear as he took the oath of office inside the State House at noon. He and Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg then walked a dozen yards and went outside to a covered platform set up on the west portico steps.
As the sun began to break through the drizzle, Schaefer called on Marylanders to face the next four years with courage, faith and optimism.
"If we are unafraid and keep our heads up and trust our fellow man, we can't help but succeed. And if we trust in our God, you know what we can do? We can do it now," Schaefer said, using his trademark call to action.
With the nation on the brink of war and facing economic uncertainty, Schaefer said we must remember, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt told the nation, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
Furthermore, he said, "I'm a healthy duck that's full of energy and ready to soar to new heights. No lame duck will occupy the governor's seat for the next four years." The state constitution bars Schaefer from seeking a third term as governor.
Uniformed police officers were posted at intersections around the State House and dozens more roamed the grounds. More than 400 officers from the Department of General Services, State Police and Annapolis police provided security.
This morning, a squad of sharpshooters entered the basement of the State House, and plainclothes guards -- wearing pins with black stars on their lapels -- passed around mug shots and descriptions of known or suspected trouble-makers. Police with walkie-talkies and binoculars could be seen peering down from the roofs of the Governor's Mansion and nearby buildings, and from the upper-floor windows of the State House.
Despite the security, a technician for a contractor providing sound equipment quipped that he wandered freely and had not been asked for an identity card. "I've been here for two days. I guess they recognize me," he said.
Maryland State Police spokesman Chuck Jackson said officials had boosted security in light of possible terrorism related to the Persian Gulf crisis. Jackson refused to say how many security officers were added to the usual number required for inaugurations.
"The uncertainty in the Middle East has caused us to maintain an open dialogue with federal, state and local law enforcement authorities and create a high degree of vigilance as well as awareness," Jackson said.
The ceremonies four years ago were delayed when an anonymous caller on inauguration day warned of a gunman in the crowd. There were unconfirmed reports then that Schaefer and Steinberg donned bulletproof vests as a result of that call.
Schaefer arrived at the State House shortly after 8 this morning and spent several hours working in his office before he went to the Governor's Mansion to prepare for the swearing-in.
Schaefer and Steinberg took the formal oath before both houses of the General Assembly inside the Senate Chamber, where seats were reserved for Maryland's members of Congress and other special guests, including Hilda Mae Snoops, the governor's longtime friend, and seven other members of the Snoops family.
Steinberg, joined by his wife, was sworn in first. Schaefer then took his oath and, smiling, leaned forward and touched cheeks with Snoops, who had accompanied him into the chamber.
Planners provided hot drinks and entertainment all morning for the hundreds of spectators they hoped would gather before the governor's speech, but persistent drizzles kept attendance to a few umbrella-carrying dignitaries and police. Asked if the turnout was disappointing, a horn player for the Glen Burnie High School jazz ensemble said before taking that stage, "No, it's less reason to get nervous."