"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.
A woman accused of driving drunk and causing head-on crash that killed her passenger changed her plea on Tuesday.
Authorities Tuesday released the name of the 27-year- old victim who was fatally injured while playing a "punching game" with a friend in a Gaslamp Quarter sports bar.
A Mexican woman in the U.S. illegally who was dragged away from her daughters by authorities in a widely viewed video was being released on her own recognizance Tuesday by an immigration judge in Southern California.
No criminal charges are expected to be filed against a man who got into a brief fight outside a South Bay gas station with a panhandler who abruptly collapsed and died during the scuffle, a police official said Tuesday.
A Pacific storm that promises to heavily douse much of Southern California this week will deliver a considerably less dramatic infusion of precipitation in the San Diego area, according to the National Weather Service.
An upcoming springtime event invites attendees to learn the in's and out's of floral design – and you'll walk away with your very own creation.
For the fourth straight year, SeaWorld launches into California inspired tapas-sized flavors that allow food connoisseurs to taste life to the fullest.