Mike Parry didn't know what he would feel when he was sworn in as Minnesota's newest state senator.
“You think you know what it’s going to be like," he said Thursday during a reception. "But when you start walking up those stairs to come into the chamber, you really feel it."
He expected to feel a mix of pride, excitement and honor. And he did.
But he felt something he didn't expect. He flashed back to his high school years.
“I thought about when I was sworn in with my dad, in the Army,” he said as tears welled up in his eyes.
Parry paused for a moment.
“That was a great day in my life, to have my dad there," he said. "He was lifer, 38 years (in the Army). And I was a senior, a 12th grader. He was right there when they administered the oath. That’s what I thought about.”
Parry's parents died years ago, but he felt his dad's presence in the chamber.
“When the judge started saying the oath, I could just feel my dad standing beside me,” he said. “I was thinking a lot of my dad. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t break up up there."
Parry won a special election to replace Sen. Dick Day of Owatonna. Day retired to become a lobbyist for Racino Now, a group that wants to bring video and slot machines to Minnesota horse-racing tracks.
At the reception, Parry hugged and shook hands with family, supporters and fellow Republican lawmakers.
He took pictures with family and friends at his seat, at the very front of the Senate chamber.
At one point, state Sen. John Marty walked by.
"I look forward to working with you," said Marty, a DFLer.
The two shooks hands.
Marty walked away.
Parry posed for more pictures.