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story.lead_photo.caption Gov. Mike Parson speaks at the Inauguration ceremonies at Missouri's Capitol on Monday. Parson was hopeful upon being sworn in fora full term as Missouri's 57th governor, recognizing the hard times the past year has brought. Photo by Julie Smith / Fulton Sun.

Gov. Mike Parson was hopeful upon being sworn in for a full term as Missouri's 57th governor Monday that better times are ahead.

Parson and the state's attorney general, treasurer, secretary of state and lieutenant governor were sworn in on the steps of the Missouri State Capitol on Monday following their elections or re-election in November.

The Governor's Office expected there to be approximately 2,000 people in the crowd on the south lawn of the Capitol, and many people also watched online.

Monday's inauguration of Parson, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick also marked the beginning of festivities for the 2021 bicentennial of Missouri's entrance into the United States.

Ceremonies Monday paused for a brief time about noon, waiting for the bells of St. Peter Catholic Church to toll 12 times before Parson was sworn in — the moment aligned with a low flyover of a stealth bomber aircraft.

Parson thanked his wife, family, state lawmakers and many others.

"We all want what is best for our families and our state," he said of Missourians.

Times have been and are challenging, particularly in 2020, given the COVID-19 pandemic: "There were sad times, tough times, and exciting times, and through it all, Missourians prevailed," Parson said.

For every moment of darkness, he said, there was ten times as much hope, and "sunny days are ahead."

Some statewide elected officials struck similar tones in statements released following Monday's ceremony.

"2020 was certainly a challenging year, but I am hopeful for Missouri's future and I look forward to continuing this important work to ensure that all Missourians are able to thrive," Fitzpatrick said in a news release.

Ashcroft said: "My office excelled through a turbulent, unprecedented time. We never closed during the pandemic. We had staff working every day for the people of Missouri, and I am proud to know we never took a day off from serving the people of this great state."

In his next four years, Parson said, it's his job to make life better for every Missourian.

"I will care for the unborn to the elderly, the rich to the poor, regardless of the color of your skin," the governor said. "This is our time to preserve the American dream."

He promised to give tools needed by doctors and nurses, law enforcement officers, farmers and teachers — though, he added, "The work to be done is not up to me alone."

Parson told reporters after his inauguration that a governor never makes everyone happy, but he's thankful for the position the state is in.

"Every day, we're going to be finding ways to get people back into the workforce," he said. As of Monday, more than 150,000 COVID-19 vaccinations had been given, not counting those handled by the federal government for long-term care facilities' residents and staff, he added.

In addition to workforce development, Parson said he would focus on infrastructure, health care, transportation and getting the state to collect online sales tax from out-of-state vendors — what's known as a Wayfair tax, something every other state but Florida already collects.

He also said he hopes to provide more opportunities for children through early childhood education.

Parson will share more about his vision for Missouri during his State of the State Address in front of state lawmakers, scheduled Jan. 27.

Some traditional ceremonies that were not held Monday because of the pandemic — including a parade and a ball — may be held later this year as part of bicentennial celebrations.

The Associated Press contributed information to this report.

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