"To me, it's akin to when man landed on the moon," George Mitchell, a Tuskegee airman who lives in Webster, told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "It's something I never thought would happen, certainly not in my lifetime."
About 225 members of the all-black, World War II-era unit have accepted invitations to attend the inauguration on Tuesday.
"I can remember coming into Washington back in the '40s, and we couldn't get anything to eat at the diners," Mitchell told the newspaper. "We had to go around the corner, knock on a window and place our orders. They'd return with the food, hand it out the window and then you'd try to find someplace to squat and eat, usually in a doorway."
Dolores Van Rensalier, 68, said she sees in President-elect Barack Obama a struggle with racial identity similar to hers.
"I am so proud of my country," she told the newspaper.
Van Rensalier, who is of mixed race, grew up believing she was white.
"Due to the economic oppression of the times, my parents decided to pass for white and move from New York to San Diego," she said. "My birth certificate says I'm white and both parents are white."
But when she went to school, black classmates weren't fooled by her light skin and hazel-green eyes. She was taunted about pretending to be something she wasn't. At age 7, she was beaten up and held down by kids who tried to light her pigtails on fire.
At 17, she left home "to lead a black life," transferring from Mission Bay High School to San Diego High School and getting work as a live-in housekeeper.
She eventually learned that back in Paterson, N.J., her great-grandfather, William Van Rensalier, was a black abolitionist active with the Underground Railroad.
"Here was a man who was proud of all that I am, as well as all that he was -- and not just prideful, but committed to doing all he could to change racism in America," she said.
Thirty-four students from La Jolla Country Day School are going to Washington to record interviews for the school's new digital archive. While the mall is packed, they will ask people what it was like when they were teenagers.
"Our goal is to get people who were in their teen years for every year from 1945 to the present," said Jonathan Shulman, who heads the school's history department.
Geoff Patnoe of Tierrasanta has been to three other presidential inaugurations. The self-described political junkie voted for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., but he still wants to be there.
Patnoe majored in political science, served as county Supervisor Dianne Jacob's chief of staff and is now president of a local government-relations firm, Public Policy Strategies.
"I enjoy being out there for it, seeing history happen," he said.
"This time, I think there is a certain buzz and excitement that you can even feel all the way in San Diego."
San Diego State University student Prince Sefa-Boakye, 19, and his family are going.
"I feel like this is a chance for the country to start over again and get it right," he told the newspaper, calling the inauguration "a-once-in-a-lifetime event."
About 240,000 tickets have been distributed for the inaugurations, but the national mall is expected to be jammed with many more people -- like Joseph Farmer, 55, of Oceanside.
Farmer, who's a member of the North County NAACP, said he was taking a tuxedo anyway.
Authorities asked the public Friday for help in identifying and tracking down a pair of thieves who have carried out a two-week series of bank robberies this month in the San Diego area.
Backers of an initiative that would allow San Diego State University to buy the SDCCU Stadium site in Mission Valley for campus expansion are scheduled to begin seeking petition signatures Saturday.
An unknown assailant jumped a woman Friday on a walking trail near Gillespie Field airport and choked her nearly into unconsciousness, fleeing when she managed to break free, authorities reported.
The San Diego Gulls allowed power-play and shorthanded goals in the first period and an empty-net goal in the third in a 4-2 loss to the Stockton Heat Friday night at Stockton.
San Diego County's unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent last month despite seasonal cutbacks in leisure and hospitality jobs, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.
The San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation on Friday held an awards ceremony to recognize the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep San Diegans safe.
It has been ten years since devastating wildfires swept through San Diego, destroying thousands of structures and affecting so many lives.
From a baby tiger cub to monitor lizards and a macaw, authorities have seized dozens of animals and filed charges against 16 people as part of what they say is the largest wildlife trafficking sweep in Southern California.
Three officer-involved shootings over the past year, including the killing of a man who opened fire at a pool party at a La Jolla apartment complex, were legally justified, District Attorney Summer Stephan announced Friday.