"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.
Opponents of California’s gas tax increase are ramping up their efforts to build support for a repeal initiative.
Temperatures stay near average, varying by a few degrees throughout the week. Slight chance of thunderstorms through Tuesday for mountain and desert locations.
A man and his son made a dramatic attempt to escape a raging wildfire in Montana and they captured it on video.
Two San Diego County community colleges announced Monday they expect to waive tuition for thousands of first-time, full-time students as part of the California College Promise program.
A Rancho Penasquitos teen is getting ready for his first day of school this week with his new service dog. The senior at Mt. Carmel High School was injured in a horrific car crash and is now in a wheelchair.
Researchers carrying out unprecedented efforts to save an ailing young killer whale in the U.S. Northwest released live salmon into waters in front of the free-swimming orca but didn't see her take any of the fish.
A San Diego County sheriff's deputy already facing charges that he groped 13 women while on duty pleaded not guilty Monday to five new charges, including forcible oral copulation.
San Diego police are searching for an assault with a deadly weapon suspect in the vicinity of Euclid Avenue and Home Avenue in Chollas Creek Monday and are asking the public to avoid the area.
Three bills authored by San Diego-area legislators were signed into law Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown, including one that increases penalties in human-trafficking cases and another limiting interactions between male correctional officers and female prisoners.