Southwest Virginians react to Governor Northam's inauguration

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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ7) -- Ralph Northam always describes himself as a resident from the Eastern Shore, but Southwest Virginians showed up in force -- and there was a strong turn out from his alma mater -- Virginia Military Institute.

"He was a proud VMI grad. It was his Army blanket from World War II. I just remember as a kid sitting on this warm blanket at WMI football games and it's about as warm as you can get", said Northam's daughter Jane Kelly.

Ralph Northam is the first WMI grad sworn in as governor in 100 years. For the Corps of Cadets, it's a good example to follow.

"For us, it's kind of taking some pride and joy in our school and kinda seeing how he's dedicating his life to selfless service and something that we strive for as an example," said Catherine Berry, First Classman.

"I know that everybody from VMI would be here today. He is a favorite son, and done well for sure," said Jim Shuler, a former Blacksburg delegate.

Southwest Virginians came out hoping Northam's Lexington ties will bring more attention to this side of the state.

"I'm just so excited to be here. We haven't been to Richmond for the inauguration in a long time and this felt like the one to come to," said John and Jeanne Fishwick.

And teachers drove from Wythe hoping for an emphasis on education.

"Our economy depends on it," said Tracey Mercier. "We have skilled workers and people who can think critically and creatively if we want to become more powerful in the world economy."

As for Kelly, she sat in the seats with her blanket. A tribute to her father.