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Peterson gets a presidential invite

Local historian Joe Peterson received this invitation to the Inauguration in late December. Peterson couldn't go for health reasons.1 / 4
Joe Peterson2 / 4
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Local historian Joe Peterson got a large white envelope in late December. Inside he found an embossed invitation to President Donald Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20.

The invitation was issued by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, and was signed by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Inside of that were the official photos of President Trump and Vice President Michael Pence and a official Inauguration Ceremonies program.

Peterson couldn't attend this time because of health reasons, but he was delighted to receive the prestigious invitation, which would have granted him entrance to an invitation-only area.

He did enjoy the inauguration ceremonies for both President Reagan and President Clinton.

"I've probably gotten six or seven [inauguration] invitations," he said, and rattled off a few more surnames, including Obama and both Bush presidents.

The program also contained a short history of the program and its traditions.

"With each inauguration, we embrace this uniquely American ceremony, seeing in this extraordinary ritual a reflection of the nation itself. In times of peace or war, of prosperity or crisis, inaugurations strengthen the national resolve to meet each new challenge," page four of the five-page history notes.

Peterson revealed that he had requested the invitation, but there were a limited number available so it wasn't a sure thing.

The longtime Cloquet resident specializes in presidential history, a fascination that began in second grade at Washington Elementary School in Cloquet.

"I guess it started shortly after the death of President Kennedy," Peterson said. "He was buried on my birthday, in November of 1963."

Of course, he doesn't limit his research to the presidents.

"I will help with Cloquet or state history or first ladies," he said. "Whenever they need help, if I can help, I will."

Monday, Feb. 20 is Presidents' Day. Peterson will be celebrating.