Complete text of Gov. Easley's inauguration speech

Today you have honored me a second time to fill the high office of Governor of North Carolina.

I am humbled by your confidence, determined to meet your expectations and committed to the worthy goals that our people have set for this state.

Four years ago, we celebrated the birth of a new century. Though still in its infancy, it has been a time of great change and great promise. We have seen adversity, but we have been resilient.

The people of North Carolina have met the 21st century with optimism, with confidence and with ambition. They have called for improved education and a better economy, and are determined to lead with innovation and with knowledge.

We have realized the challenge of the global era and while others fear the changes, we embrace them - confident that the character and spirit of our people will prevail.

For the past decade, we have witnessed a rapid and steady decline of those enterprises and industries that were basic to our economy for well over a century. The wave of foreign trade has eroded the lowest segment of our economy.

But we are charting these new waters with confidence and wisdom, determined to expand our knowledge and improve our skills.

Today, both scripture and commerce require that none of our peoples talents shall be buried.

The demands placed upon us are clear. In North Carolina, we must educate our people to navigate this sea of change and set a new and better course to economic prosperity and security.

We are building confidently on the system of education with which we have been so blessed.

Now as one economic era has ended and another has begun the time for indecision and timidity has passed. We are already on the path of progress.

Our full attention must be focused on the transition of our economy consistent with the educational demands of this global era.

We welcome the challenges that remain.

Our people must have more knowledge to prevail. We will offer it.

Our state must expand its creative talent. We will produce it.

And, our people must have more skill to compete. We will provide it.

We have good cause for optimism, as these challenges are not unprecedented. We have, in times past, come through as much and more.

The people of this state will meet any challenge and will never fear competition or retreat from responsibility.

As each generation has sacrificed so that the next might prosper ... let it be clear that this generation will do no less.

As our North Carolina soldiers serve abroad to guarantee our freedoms, we lend them encouragement, support and prayers.

We ask God for a speedy and safe return for each of them.

And as they endure great hardship in our name, it is our solemn responsibility to be worthy of their sacrifice. We have an obligation to prepare for them and their families educational opportunity that ensures our economic security here at home.

It is the patriotic duty of every citizen and every state to promote and provide the academic excellence essential for America to defend her position in the world marketplace. For the true fight for American values is not only in the deserts of Iraq or in the mountains of Afghanistan. It is in every school, every university and every research facility in the nation. It is in the hearts and minds of our people.

For, in this global era, we speak not just of economic prosperity but also of economic freedom. The same call that summons us to fight for freedom abroad now calls us to preserve the right to be the master of our own economic destiny.

And those same values that have guided us this far will direct our course as we go forward.

Just as we will be judged individually by how we treat the least of our brethren, so shall we be measured as a state.

We are committed not only to an economic imperative but to the higher moral imperative to improve the human condition consistent with our character and our faith.

For those who struggle under the crushing weight of poverty, we must replace barriers with bridges built on a foundation of better education and development of talent so all can reach their full potential not because it is law, but because it is right.

Wisdom must partner with fairness to provide quality education for all of our people in every county of our One North Carolina regardless of their station in life. Opportunity must be afforded to all and responsibility required of all.

Every branch of government must work together letting ideology give way to new realities. For those who stubbornly cling to the past will fail and those who courageously reach for the future will succeed.

We must demand continued fiscal discipline that mandates efficiency. And the priority of every investment must promote our greatest asset, our people.

For in this era of globalization, the unskilled nations will suffer, while the skilled nations will prosper. In North Carolina, our people will prosper.

Let those in search of talented people and creative minds know that they need look no farther than within the borders of this state.

And let the nation and the world know that North Carolina has disdain for mediocrity and demand for excellence; that we will make any sacrifice, meet any commitment and invest any resource.

But this much we pledge ... that all North Carolinians will have full opportunity to fulfill all their God-given talents.

Today, greatness is within our reach. Let us proceed so that we never have regret for lost opportunities. And let us be guided by our character, our courage and our faith.