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6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Good evening.

I could not be more pleased than to be here standing at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport tonight as we celebrate the opening of the Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal here at the City of Atlanta.

I want to thank Gov. Deal and every single elected official here, my former colleagues from the House and Senate, members of past and present City Councils for being here.

I do want to take a moment of personal privilege and really spend a moment on the members of Council who are here. So when I say your name, please stand: Councilmember Lamar Willis, please stand. Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd, please stand. Councilmember Kwanza Hall, please stand. Councilwoman Felicia Moore, please stand. Councilwoman Keisha Bottoms, please stand. Councilmember Aaron Watson. Councilmember Yolanda Adrean, please stand. Councilmember Alex Wan. Councilwoman Cleta Winslow. Councilmember Michael Bond and the Chairman for the Transportation Committee for the City of Atlanta Council members, C.T. Martin.

Please give these leaders a round of applause that is well deserved.

And somewhere there is my partner who is my president, who I would not move on without acknowledging. The President of the Atlanta City Council. Ceasar, will you stand up so we can let the folks see you?

Ceasar, thank you very much for your leadership.

I also want to thank my staff, the Cabinet of my administration. Please stand for the hard work you have done. My staff is here. I really owe you a huge debt of gratitude.

I also want members of Mayor Franklin’s administration who are present please stand and be acknowledged.

I really want to thank Airport General Manager Louis Miller and all of the airport employees who help this operation run. Through your coordinated efforts and partnerships, you have left a legacy for the entire world to see.

I want to thank Mayor Shirley Franklin and all of the work that she did. Because of your unwavering support more than 10 years ago, the city was able to announce to the world that we were moving forward with an ambitious capital development plan, which included a new 1.2 million-square- foot international terminal.

And after all of her hard work, here we are today. And I am personally grateful that she’s here. Mayor, will you stand?

Today, the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal stands as a testament to our continued effort to make Atlanta a leading city of the world.

I want to acknowledge all of my friends. I also see Congressman Hank Johnson, who is a member of Congress, who is here as well.

Since we are now standing in Clayton County, I would be remised if I didn’t also acknowledge our Clayton County partners led by the Chairman Eldrin Bell and all of the commissioners here.

I am personally grateful to Richard Anderson and everyone at Delta for their longstanding commitment to this airport and to the City of Atlanta. Delta’s story is really Atlanta’s story, and Atlanta’s story is Delta’s story.

I would also like to recognize the members of the consular corps who so many have joined us this evening, including the Dean of Consular Corps, Dr. Lutz Gorgens of Germany, a good friend of mine. As many of you know, more than 70 foreign governments are represented here by consulates and trade offices that have chosen to make their home in the City of Atlanta.

You know, we are here today because of the legacy of one extraordinary man, a mayor of the City of Atlanta. His name is Maynard Jackson. So, at this time, I want to recognize the Jackson family for their unwavering support and for sharing Mayor Maynard Jackson with the City of Atlanta. His leadership and character was truly an inspiration to me personally and an inspiration to a city that he put on his back and he carried so many times.

Tonight, we have with us, his wife Valerie, whom you’ll hear from later; and Mayor Jackson’s daughters, Brooke, Beth, Valerie-Amanda and Alexandra.

And Mayor Jackson’s sisters, Carol Ann and Constance, are also here with us this evening.

You know when I first came into office, we had a topping off ceremony for the City of Atlanta, Mrs. Jackson. And on that day, this was the Sharpie pen that was used to sign the plank that was placed in the topping off ceremony.

And I was newly elected mayor and we were talking about finishing this terminal by the spring of 2012. I felt really uncomfortable saying that, but Richard wanted it opened by the spring of 2012.

We signed it together, and on that day we used this pen at the topping off ceremony. And I will tell you that I made the decision that day that if Maynard Jackson could move a federal highway – Highway 85 – in order to build this airport, then I could get it open on time by the spring of 2012.

So Mrs. Jackson, this is my present back to you.

To you and your family, I truly hope that you feel this terminal is an appropriate expression of thanks for a leader who contributed so much to our city.

So, in keeping with his vision, once the international terminal opens for business, it will help us meet forecasted operational demands well into the 21st century and beyond.

I look forward to May 16 when we greet travelers from around the world in this new, state-of-the-art terminal, best in class. With a wide array of world-class shopping, restaurant and outlets, and increased gate capacity, it’s going to connect us with 75 international destinations and 50 different countries.

And I know the travelers will love the efficiency … especially when they only have to check their bags one time. You know that only cost us about a billion and a half dollars to make that happen.

So thank you all for giving me the opportunity to be your mayor. Thank you all for letting me be a part of tonight.

And with that, I would like to bring to the podium, my friend, and the leader of the state of Georgia, our governor, Nathan Deal.
Last updated: 5/4/2012 9:40:37 AM