U.S. Representative Travis Childers was given a warm welcome Monday at the courthouse in Holly Springs after becoming the first Congressman ever to face four elections in 63 days.
A crowd of about 200 turned out for Childers’ third ceremonial oath of office in the First Congressional District.
Bill Renick, outgoing director of the Marshall County Development Authority, was selected to read Childers his oath.
In opening the ceremony honoring Childers at 11 a.m., emcee Larry Hall recalled the history of the courthouse, after welcoming Childers, his wife Tami and his mother Betty on behalf of the board of supervisors and people of Marshall County.
The courthouse has seen transportation change from horse and mule to motorized vehicles and from pennies a gallon gasoline to $4 a gallon, Hall quipped.
And the courthouse survived the Great Depression, women’s suffrage, voters rights and civil rights.
“Let us continue to make history,” he said.
Brother Tony Roberts, of Heritage Apostolic Church, led prayer for the auspicious occasion after making remarks.
“I can say with confidence, we did not elect the wrong man,” he said.
He prayed that Childers “lead us back to those old-fashioned values” of the forefathers who placed the words “In God We Trust” on American currency and across public buildings.
After Katherine Farese sang the National Anthem, Rep. Kelvin Buck, circuit clerk Lucy Carpenter and chancery clerk Chuck Thomas recognized a host of elected officials and leaders across the district, and other guests in the county courtroom.
Carpenter remarked about the local effort to send Childers to Washington.
“I don’t believe, Congressman, since I’ve been in office, that I have ever seen a democratic executive committee come together this way to get a candidate elected to office,” she said.
George Zinn III provided the local tribute to Childers.
He said he believes the people of Marshall County had made their decision for Childers as early as the first primary ballot.
“People are usually torn between two candidates,” he said. “I asked how can that be (the electorate had its mind made up)?
“Could it be that grocery prices are through the roof? That gas and diesel are $12 at the pump? That our funds from Washington are growing smaller and smaller? Or, that Childers is a likeable candidate?
“I would choose all three. Yes, we are going through trying times. And Travis Childers is a likeable guy. And we identified with his struggle.
“Each time people went to the polls, they went with more and more determination.”
Zinn said it is unusual to get people to come out for run-off elections.
“But it was not in this election,” he said. “It shows me there is love toward Travis. People were determined and galvanized. I observed unity in this election, the type that could propel this county forward and assure continued growth in this county and state. We are banking all our hope on Travis Childers.”
Sharron Gardner, with Northeast Mississippi Planning Development District (NEMPDD), provided a patriotic tribute to Childers.
“I feel like the mule,” she said, referring to a joke provided by Brother Roberts, where a mule found himself without a chance in the Kentucky Derby, and thought to himself he was in mighty fine company.
Gardner and Childers were school-mates and are both from Prentiss County.
Four chancery clerks got together to organize NEMPDD, she said, and Childers, as chancery clerk, had supported NEMPDD.
“May 13, Marshall County went to the polls and gave Travis Childers nearly 70 percent of the vote,” she said.
She said Childers has “a strong sense about what is the right thing to do.”
“He’s a coalition builder, a working man’s man, and one of us - always concerned about the lives of others,” Gardner said. “He never gave up and he is going to keep on advocating and working for you. He gives credit to others for his success.”
House speaker Billy McCoy, asked to introduce Bill Renick, said his family and the Childers family were sharecroppers and neighbors - both families coming from humble backgrounds.
“He came from a family that worked hard and came through the courthouse, and he is now a national leader,” McCoy said. “It is on his shoulders to make decisions on the economy, fuel and world peace or war. He’s up to the job.”
Childers spoke of the honor to meet at the courthouse for the ceremony and to look out and see so many he loves and who loves him.
He said he was told in Congress, no representative had to go to the polls four times in 63 days to get elected.
“And I hope it never happens again for any poor soul,” he quipped.
He said he wants the same things for Mississippi that the people do – for the children of Mississippi to get a quality education and for parents and grandparents to have jobs.
“I’m for a better quality of life in North Mississippi,” Childers said.
“Everyone deserves a chance. An opportunity cannot be forced on people, but it can be offered.
“I want those people who live on a gravel road to have access (to education and jobs) like those who live on the big road.”
He pledged his office would be open to the citizens.
Childers said he was surprised by two things during the election - “the viciousness of the campaign attack and the national attention this race would draw.”
Starting out his campaign with no office or telephone, Childers said he used the cell phone and his little train picked up steam - “the service train that wants to make North Mississippi a better place.”
“I believe government should be your friend, not your enemy,” he said. “I love the courthouse crowd and all their friends who elected us and stood up for us.”
He said he was met with nothing but courtesy while campaigning throughout the district.
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