Local soldier is Obama for a day

January 12, 2009 3:58:39 PM PST
A soldier from Fort Bragg got to be President Obama - at least for a day. Derrick Brooks put his left hand on the bible and raised his right to take the oath of office.Brooks, and other military personnel were stand-ins for the first family at a rehearsal for the inauguration this weekend.

"It felt great to be famous for one day," Brooks told reporters.

Organizers picked the 26-year-old Army staff sergeant from Fayetteville because he resembles Obama in height, weight and skin color.

He's not an exact match.

"He said my ears weren't as big as his," said Brooks of his meeting with the real Obama.

Brooks and other stand-ins spent hours rehearsing every aspect of the inauguration.

"It's important to rehearse this so it goes off flawlessly on the inauguration day," said Navy Chief Petty Officer Lucy Quinn, spokeswoman for the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee. "The president is supposed to take the oath of office as close to noon as can possibly be timed."

When the president-elect's name was announced during the practice inauguration, it was "Barack H. Obama" — not Barack Hussein Obama. During the campaign, Obama's middle name — common in the Middle East — was at times used as a negative by people opposed to his election.

After winning the presidency, Obama said he planned to use his full name in the swearing-in ceremony. The Presidential Inaugural Committee said Sunday that Obama still plans to use his middle name when taking the oath of office.

Wearing a grin even wider than Obama's, Brooks told reporters he was honored to participate in the dry run.

"I know it's a change in history," he said, "and it's a historical moment that only happens, that's only going to happen, one time."


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