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Idahoans Reflect on the Inauguration of President Barack Obama

“No matter who’s being sworn in, it’s historic.”

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Idahoans watching the Inauguration of President Barack Obama is a little like the nosey neighbor peering through the drapes at a big party down the block. Gem State voters would have preferred--by a 2-1 margin--that Mitt Romney be the center of attention on Jan. 21.

And while national news media filled the airwaves and front pages with wall-to-wall coverage of the inaugural ceremonies, the Gem State's largest daily newspaper gave its most prominent online space to an expose on how slick roads cause a spike in winter accidents.

But more than 200,000 Idahoans did vote for President Barack Obama in November 2012 to return for four more years in the White House, and more than a few joined the hundreds of thousands of Americans on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to witness the bipartisan event.

"I was moved by the unity and diversity on my every side--illustrating what happens when people share a vision for the future, inspired by faith," Idaho Falls native Conor Hilton told Boise Weekly. "It was incredible. Unforgettable."

Greg Simione, a Garden Valley resident who attended the inauguration with business partner Gerold Dennett--the two own the Garden Valley Market and the Longhorn Bar--said he was swept up by the tradition of the event.

"No matter who's being sworn in, it's historic and it's part of our culture, as an American," said Simione.

He admitted he didn't have the best view on the mall, but said the energy was tangible.

"[There was] lots of cheering, lots of smiles and even tears of joy," Simione said. "Most impressive was the number of children. We are exhausted yet so happy we made the trip."

A group of nearly 30 Idaho firefighters also made the trip to officially represent the Gem State in the inaugural parade.

"This parade isn't about Republican, Democrat, Independents or Tea Parties. It's about America and our country and our patriotism," said Boise firefighter Mike Menlove, who assembled a band of bagpipers and drummers representing fire departments from Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Lewiston and Idaho Falls.

Hilton said he had a great view of the festivities after securing tickets from Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo's office.

"There was a special power added to hearing the president in person, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people, who share his vision for America," said Hilton. "Obama's call for unity and a reminder that his duty is to God and the United States, not any political party or faction."

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