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Inauguration memorable

Staff reports

For Rochester's Jon Eckhoff, part of a group of southeastern Minnesotans who attended the inauguration and related events, the most memorable moments came at the inauguration itself.

"When the entire group (a crowd of 300,000) sang the national anthem at the Capitol, it brought tears to my eyes," he said. "We were very close to the president. We were actually able to see him with the Jumbotron."

Eckhoff said he also was struck by the level of security. He waited an hour and 45 minutes in line to get through screening to see Bush take the oath of office, and said, "I have never felt safer than I felt in Washington, D.C., this week."

Eckhoff said he enjoyed Bush's speech, which, for him, touched on all the centrally important subjects -- character, morals, family values, and America's responsibility in the world.

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"I thought it was a great speech," Eckhoff said. "I think it had a nice tone."

The group arrived in Washington on Tuesday. They toured the Capitol and had dinner with Rep. Gil Gutknecht on Wednesday. By Thursday night, they were riding to the various ceremonial balls. Eckhoff's group had tickets to the Agriculture Ball.

"We heard the food's good at the Agriculture Ball, so we're excited," he said. "This is a celebration. It's supposed to be a celebration of optimism for the next few years."

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