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Nod to Newtown in inaugural address resonates with those attending from Connecticut

By Johanna Somers and Jennifer McDermott

Publication: The Day

Published January 22. 2013 4:00AM   Updated January 22. 2013 1:43PM

As Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman made her way through hundreds of thousands of people during the inauguration of President Barack Obama Monday, she spotted the parents and brother of the Sandy Hook shooting victim Dylan Hockley.

Six-year-old Dylan Hockley was one of the 20 children and six staff members killed in Newtown on Dec. 14.

"I got to see them, and it meant so much to them as it did to myself" that Obama mentioned Sandy Hook during his inaugural speech, Wyman said.

During his speech Obama said, "Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm."

Wyman said she thought it meant a great deal to all the people of Connecticut that the president remembered Sandy Hook.

She said she didn't see any other Sandy Hook families there, but she did see Newtown School Superintendent Janet Robinson at the inaugural reception Sunday night.

"It was wonderful to see her there," Wyman said.

She also appreciated hearing Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, speak about Newtown, she said. "You realize that we might be 50 states, but we are one country," Wyman said. "They care about what happens within our country, and you know, it just makes me very proud."

People from around the nation consoled Wyman as they found out she was from Connecticut, she said. "I have seen people from all over the country, some of them lieutenant governors, (they said) you are from Connecticut, we are so sorry about your loss, we are thinking about everybody," Wyman said. "It really is an amazing situation how so many people care and were touched very deeply by the what happened in Sandy Hook."

At the inauguration everyone in Washington was "talking the talk" as far as working together, she said.

"I am just hoping that we will walk the walk. We can't afford four more years of the kind of government we have seen here in Washington," she said.

"We need Washington to come together and remember that they are elected for the people of this country."

"I am not sure that I ever thought in my lifetime that I would see - twice an African American president elected - I never thought I would see it once - so this to me is an absolutely wonderful thing that falls on a great day. A great leader was now sworn in to run our country the same day that we recognized another great leader and that was Martin Luther King."

A group of about 90 cadets from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and the Coast Guard Band also traveled to Washington to participate in the inauguration. Cadets marched in the inaugural parade and Meredith Anderson, a junior cadet from Ontario, N.Y., attended the Collegiate Presidential Inaugural Conference, a leadership conference held in conjunction with the inauguration.

When Obama spoke about the military during his inaugural address, the crowd roared, said Anderson, who was about 500 yards away from the Capitol building during the speech.

"We don't always see that overwhelming support," she said. "I was in uniform, and everywhere I went people thanked me for my service. It was just a very different experience, and it was really powerful to see how the country does support the military."

Being surrounded by hundreds of thousands of Americans, waving flags and absorbing the atmosphere in Washington at such an important time, Anderson said, was "an absolutely incredible experience."

Later in the day, cadets marched by Obama and Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., the head of the Coast Guard, in the reviewing stand. Papp said it was an honor to be with the commander in chief as hundreds of Coast Guard men and women passed in review.

"Our Coast Guardsmen were very proud to join soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen in today's parade which is a time-honored tradition dating back to 1789," he said.

Brynna Cooke, a 19-year-old cadet from Salem, said marching in the parade was phenomenal.

"Seeing all the other services join us there with the Coast Guard Band and the crowd cheering was surreal," she said. "The president and our commandant saluted in acknowledgement that we were passing by. It was a great experience, and I'm so glad I could be a part."

j.somers@theday.com

j.mcdermott@thday.com

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How would you rate the president's second-term inaugural speech?
A, The president was eloquent and made me proud to be an American.
37%
B, Familiar rhetoric from this president, so nothing original.
11%
C, I think it pales in comparison to his speech first term.
1%
D, 'Our journey is not complete' and 'We are made for this moment' are just cliches.
8%
F, His speech did nothing to unify our divided nation.
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