Derrick Brooks puts his left hand on the book and raises his right, ready to take the oath of office. Dozens of cameras capture this moment in history, even though Brooks is wearing a name card reading “president-elect Obama.”
“It felt great to be famous for one day,” Brooks told reporters after spending hours standing in for Barack Obama during Sunday’s dress rehearsal for the presidential inaugural on January 20.
Organizers picked the 26-year-old Army staff sergeant from Fayetteville, North Carolina, because he resembles Obama in height, weight and skin colour. But he’s not an exact match. When Brooks met Obama last Thursday, “he said my ears weren’t as big as his.”
Admitted to the exclusive club of stand-ins were military personnel from the area who resembled Obama’s wife, Michelle, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and others expected on the inaugural stage. Even a faux President George W Bush showed up as inaugural officials worked out the kinks in their plans for what likely will be the biggest ceremony the nation’s capital has ever hosted.
As the sky over the Capitol grew light, cannons boomed, military bands played marching music and stand-ins took their places.
The 6-foot 2-inch Brooks stood stock still as several handlers moved the man facing him, a stand-in for Chief Justice John Roberts, to the right, then left, then right again, before marking the spot with brightly coloured tape.