Surprise, inspiration meet Obama in Colorado |

Surprise, inspiration meet Obama in Colorado

AP PhotoRay Brown, a civics teacher at Fort Lupton High School in Fort Lupton, Colo., and part of an ensemble of buffalo soldiers, talks about his plans to see the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama before taking part in a black cowboy rodeo at the 103rd National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver on Monday.

FORT LUPTON, Colorado ” Ray Brown was disappointed when his group of Buffalo Soldier re-enactors wasn’t chosen to march in the inaugural parade.

But as Barack Obama took his oath Tuesday, watched by 30 teens in Brown’s civics class, the teacher said he wouldn’t have traded the chance to see it with youths watching their first inaugural.

“Everyone’s so hopeful,” said Brown, who the night before had performed in a Denver rodeo with the all-black Buffalo Soldiers of the American West.

The group had applied to take part in the inaugural parade but didn’t get in.

“I don’t know if I feel any differently than I did before,” Brown said. “But I’m very hopeful. Maybe we’ll see world peace ” gosh, wouldn’t that be awesome?”

In classrooms and coffee shops, office towers and diners, Coloradans watched Tuesday’s inaugural with memories of another major Obama speech: His acceptance of the Democratic presidential nomination before 80,000 at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver.

State lawmakers paused to watch the ceremony on large screens set up in the House chamber. Obama supporters gathered at city restaurants and planned a batch of parties Tuesday evening.

At the National Western Stock Show in Denver, one of the nation’s largest, about a dozen people crowded around a TV in an arena full of shops selling Western belt buckles, nuts, cotton candy and posters of cowboys roping cattle.

“This is really something. I’m lucky to see it in my lifetime. I thought it’d never happen,” said 73-year-old Carl Kreifels of Lakewood.

Added Kreifels’ 72-year-old wife Betty: “It just makes me so proud of America. It actually sends chills down my spine to see that we’re finally following the Constitution ” anyone can achieve!”

Many at the show skipped the ceremony and focused instead on a hog market.

“Every four years we get a new president,” scoffed Aaron Boysen, 43, an Iowan who didn’t vote for Obama and said he didn’t mind missing the speech.

Back at Fort Lupton High School, when Obama called for the nation to serve, some in Brown’s class responded.

“I think it’s time to make a change,” said Adrian Neal, an 18-year-old senior who said he planned to put in some extra hours at a nursing home where he sporadically volunteers.

Of course, the students didn’t sit entranced by the whole speech. There were some cracks on first lady Michelle Obama’s gold suit, and some remarked how old the former presidents looked.

But when Obama strode out to the podium, about half the class spontaneously applauded.

“We’re the future, and we’re going to be a big part of the country now,” said 17-year-old Tyler Diller. “It’s exciting.”

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