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Photo provided Duke Harrison was in Washington, D.C. for President Obama's swearing-in.

WDC sophomore attends Inauguration Day in D.C.

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WDC sophomore attends Inauguration Day in D.C.
Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson 56482

Wadena-Deer Creek High School sophomore Duke Harrison witnessed history in the making when he attended President Barack Obama's inauguration last week in Washington, D.C.

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"It was phenomenal ... such a great life experience. It's hard to put it into words," recalled Harrison, 16, who rose before dawn and waited for four hours in chilly weather to hear the new president's inaugural speech.

Harrison attended the event as a representative on the Congressional Youth Leadership Council (CYLC). He was nominated last summer by WDC High School band director Lisa Weniger.

"I was very excited when Duke told me he was attending the CYLC conference in Washington, D.C. and would have the opportunity to attend the inauguration," Weniger said. "I nominated a few students who have the same leadership qualities as Duke, but didn't think anyone would actually go. Seeing history in the making was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Duke. I am glad he had the opportunity to go."

According to Weniger, CYLC is designed to inspire outstanding youth to reach their full leadership potential while experiencing the nation and the world.

Harrison stood shoulder to shoulder with close to two million people during the ceremony in the National Mall. He said people wept, cheered and sang songs.

"It was amazing to hear President Obama and his message," Harrison said. "The sound system was great. But people were yelling constantly."

During his speech, Obama would pause to make a point, Harrison said. "Then you could hear this roar coming from the front [of the stage]. It was the applause finally reaching us. It was unreal," he said.

Besides President Obama's speech, Harrison said he especially enjoyed hearing Colin Powell and Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak as part of the activities leading up to the inauguration. "They were amazing. Excellent speakers."

Harrison also enjoyed the concert on Sunday prior to the inauguration, featuring entertainers like Bono, Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen, as well as the concert for CYLC youth. Dressed in a tuxedo, Harrison visited and danced with fellow CYLC youth from around the country at the National Air & Space Museum.

"Chris Daughtry sang," Harrison said. "It was sweet."

This summer, Harrison has the opportunity to attend the Global Youth Leadership Conference in Beijing, China.

"My parents are encouraging me to go. I'll see," Harrison said. Duke is the son of Ric and Cheryl Harrison of Wadena.

So is there politics in Harrison's future?

"Maybe ..." he said with a smile.

While he's mulling it over, Harrison is catching up on sleep from his D.C. trip, participating in Knowledge Bowl, playing percussion in band, and hitting the ice for the Wolverine hockey team.

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