January 18, 2009

Locals at Inauguration : Gearing up to weather history

Rachel Griffith is gearing for what’s expected to be below-freezing temperatures at Tuesday’s inauguration.

The only problem is, she doesn’t know what type of gear she’ll have to wear.

Griffith, a 2007 Modesto High graduate and sophomore at Mills College in Oakland, is a member of the UC Berkeley Army ROTC program.

She’s among the 20 or so members answering the call to help out on the big day. Her group is attached to the 116th Infantry. She knows she’ll be doing a lot of things to help out, including ushering the hundreds expected to get seats near the podium.

Temperatures are expected to be in the 20s.

“I’m pretty sure they’re going to want us to wear our skirts,” Griffith said. “I’m afraid of being cold.”

Actually, Griffith is warmed by the notion by being part of history. Her group is scheduled to arrive in the area on Sunday, and the national ROTC scholarship winner will do whatever is asked.

There were initially only going to be four from her group attending. Somehow, she said, the list grew to 18, and ROTC officials knew she was interested. Students from Cal, Cal State East Bay, St. Mary’s and Mills are among those the program.

“It’s going to be absolutely incredible getting to participate in history,” Griffith said. “It’s something I can look back on and say, ‘I was there. I saw our first African-American president get sworn in. Just being able to say you saw it on TV is amazing, and being back there is more incredible.”

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