North Coast folks head to Obama inauguration

  • José Ignacio Gaona

Jose Ignacio Gaona, a Fort Bragg teenager and son of Mexican immigrants, expects to get a close look Monday at Barack Obama's second presidential inauguration.

Gaona, 15, will be among the North Coast residents with tickets giving them access to the viewing area within two blocks of the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, close enough, he figures, "to see what's going on."

"I'm definitely excited," said Gaona, a Fort Bragg High School sophomore who's earning all A's and plans to study law or medicine at a top school like Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard or Princeton.

"Always dream big," Gaona said, adding that he may wind up running for public office because it is "a good way to help."

He is, incidentally, already in his second term as student representative to the Fort Bragg school board.

As a minority from a low-income family, Gaona said it will be "pretty cool" to see Obama sworn into office in the nation's 57th presidential inauguration.

He's one of six Fort Bragg high schoolers in the Partnership Scholars Program attending the inauguration with Rachel Binah, a Democratic National Committee member from Little River in Mendocino County.

Binah, who attended her first inauguration as a toddler in 1949 (it was Harry Truman's, the first televised inaugural), remembers watching the parade from a window in the Labor Department building.

She attended both of Bill Clinton's inaugurations, but says Obama's first swearing in four years ago was "the most inspirational of all."

Obama's 2009 inauguration as the nation's first African-American chief executive was a global event, and drew an estimated 1.8 million spectators to the National Mall, the largest event in Washington's history.

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