Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

January 8, 2013

Transformative governor moving on

(Continued)

Daniels officially leaves office when Republican Gov.-elect Mike Pence is sworn in on Jan. 14.

Daniels' impact has been, and will be, measured in so many ways - with praise and disparagement.

For me, part of the measure will include a small moment I witnessed in August, when Daniels welcomed a group of Muslims who came to pray in the Indiana Statehouse. They were there at Daniels' invitation. In his first year in office, Daniels started the tradition of the Governor's Iftar Dinner as an annual event conducted during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

As the event began, I saw a young college student approach Daniels to introduce himself. What was so touching about it was the fact that the young man was an immigrant from war-torn Syria, born in a country now governed by a ruler who wouldn't think twice about killing him. Yet on that August evening, he was chatting warmly with Daniels, who is the grandson of Syrian immigrants, and who is an evangelical Christian who's served two presidents in the White House.

The young man left the encounter saying Daniels inspired him.

"He makes me want to do something good with my life," he told me.

Daniels left the encounter saying how pleased he was that the dinner had become such a tradition.

"Since the beginning, I've been conscious of the imperative to serve everyone," Daniels said, "people of all faiths and people with no faith at all."

- Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

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