Thousands of miles from Seoul, Korea, Friday's ceremony was about blending Koreans and Americans together to form a new beginning in Montgomery. The people we talked with all said they knew they would probably enjoy Friday's grand opening ceremony at Hyundai, but they said they didn't know it was going to be spectacular.
Emotions ran high even before the opening ceremony began. As some of the 4,000 invited guests arrived, the reality of what was about to happen hit them. One was Hyundai spokesperson Kathy Johnson. "I actually found myself getting teary eyed and I realized what a milestone we have come. Actually, I feel like today we have birthed a baby." District Attorney Ellen Brooks was emotional too. "I was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama and I've never been prouder. It's a great time for this city." And, City Council Member Tim Head also felt it. "I'm flabbergasted! Just to be able to come out here and see the extent of what's taken place is absolutely unbelievable."
Lots of elected officials were at the ceremony. Most members of Alabama's congressional delegation were present too. And, there was also the appearance of former President George Bush. And, when it was all over, each the person had a different personal reaction to what they had just experienced. State Treasurer Kay Ivey was one. "It was so sincere. It was so sincere from everybody - even the gentleman to my left. He is the dean of the engineering school in Korea and we conversed. They are so sincere." Judge Sue Bell Cobb of the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals had her reaction too. "I'm from Alabama. My family goes back generations. I love this state, and I don't to want to lose people to other states. I want them to stay here. This is a reason they can stay in Alabama."
Former Commissioner of Mental Health also felt the excitement." Little bitty town like Montgomery, Alabama. Who would have ever believed it? Who would have ever thunk it - as they would say? And City Council member Janet May says she's considering reacting with her purse."I was thinking I'll probably buy a Santa Fe. Personally, that's how it will affect me because I'd like to drive one because I'd like to know my neighbors made it."
And, one personal observation. I was moved at how fired up all the Hyundai team members were during the ceremony. When Chairman Chung took the stage they stood, applauded and genuinely cheered.