FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Two children of a Fort Bragg Special Forces Soldier were honored with the chance to witness last month's Inauguration Day activities at the nation's capital.
Solomon McGinty, 14, and his sister, Akaela, 16, both students at Terry Sanford High School in Fayetteville, made the trip to the Washington, D.C. area for the second time in less than 12 months because of their outstanding academic achievements.
Akaela, a high school junior, was invited on behalf of Lead America, a program whose mission is to inspire and empower youth to achieve their full potential, according to its Web site.
Akaela said she has been gaining valuable experience with Lead America for almost three years now. She was nominated by a teacher because of her grades.
Last summer, her involvement with Lead America took her to the 2008 Congressional Student Leadership Conference on National Security and Intelligence at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. This latest gathering of about 1,000 high-achieving teenagers allowed her to forge stronger friendships with other students in the Lead America program, she said.
Solomon was also invited back to Washington, D.C. area because of his nearly two-year involvement with the Congressional Youth Leadership Council.
CYLC's stated purpose, according to its Web site, is similar to Lead America's. CYLC coordinates "experimental education programs" to inspire the world's young people to achieve their full potential.
"I was nominated by my teacher and it sounded good, so I went and I really liked the program," he said.
The last time Solomon visited D.C., he said, "the Smithsonian was closed. This time I actually got to go inside. It was pretty cool."
While Akaila and Solomon were busy visiting museums of the Smithsonian Institution, and listening to speakers such as Colin Powell and First Amendment rights advocate, Mary Beth Tinker, their parents had to stay at home in Fayetteville.
Their mother, Bung-Oh, said missing out on inauguration activities wasn't that big of a deal to her and her husband, Chief Warrant Officer Paul C. McGinty of the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). After all, she added, Akaela and Solomon were the ones being rewarded for their hard work.
Despite the cold weather during Inauguration Day, Akaela was honored to have witnessed the event.
"To see it happen right there in front of your eyes was like history in the making," she said.