The special guests attending Biden’s State of the Union 2023 : NPR

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President Biden will deliver his second State of the Union address Tuesday evening, with honored guests who espouse the administration’s policies in attendance. Here, Biden and Vice President Harris take the stage at the Democratic National Committee’s winter meeting on February 3 in Philadelphia.

Patrick Semansky/AP

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Patrick Semansky/AP

President Biden will deliver his second State of the Union address Tuesday evening, with honored guests who espouse the administration’s policies in attendance. Here, Biden and Vice President Harris take the stage at the Democratic National Committee’s winter meeting on February 3 in Philadelphia.

Patrick Semansky/AP

While President Biden addresses the nation in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, a handful of VIPs will watch with first lady Jill Biden from a viewing box in the Capitol . Collectively, they show different themes that Biden will highlight in his speech.

Among the guests: a cancer survivor, an activist fighting for clean water, a mother caring for her disabled veteran husband and a Holocaust survivor.

The most recognizable names

Tire Nichols’ mother and father

RowVaughn and Rodney Wells are the mother and stepfather of Tire Nichols, the 29-year-old unarmed Black man who was brutally beaten by police and later died while hospitalized in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Graphic footage of the incident was released in late January by Memphis authorities, sparking a renewed sense of national outrage over police brutality. Biden called the incident “horrific” and a “painful reminder” of the need for law enforcement reform to ensure incidents like this never happen again.

The President is calling on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which ends qualified immunity for law enforcement officers, so that he can then sign the bill.

Brandon Tsay, who dismantled the Monterey Park shooter

Brandon Tsay, 26, dismantled the gunman who killed 11 people and wounded 10 others in Monterey Park, California, in late January.

The initial attack took place near the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio, owned by the Tsay family and located in the Alhambra. When the gunman entered the family studio to carry out the second attack, Tsay did what he had to do and grabbed the shooter’s assault-style gun.

The Alhambra police chief presented Tsay with a medal of courage for his actions.

Paul Pelosi, the husband of the former speaker of the House, who was attacked in his home

The husband of former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Paul Pelosi was attacked in his home in San Francisco last October by an intruder with a hammer. The uninvited guest was looking for the California legislator and instead met her husband and tried to hold him against his will.

Police arrived at the Pelosi residence and saw the two men struggling for a hammer. Then the assailant hit Pelosi in the head, breaking her skull and injuring her right arm.

The politically motivated attack was an attempt to kidnap and harm Nancy Pelosi, who at that time was the speaker of the House.

Bono, singer and HIV/AIDS activist

The lead singer of U2, Bono is a long-time activist dedicated to raising awareness about the fight against HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty. He has worked with other advocates over the past 20 years to build public and political support, including the creation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, announced by President George W. Bush in his address on the State of the Union 20 years ago.

The aid plan is credited with saving 25 million lives worldwide by providing life-saving HIV drugs in poorer countries. Bono is also the co-founder of the ONE Campaign, a non-partisan group that works with governments to fight poverty and preventable disease and has raised more than $700 million to fight HIV/AIDS in -Africa.

Recognition of the year of the Ukrainian war

For the second consecutive year, the first lady invited Ambassador Oksana Markarova of Ukraine to join her in the District of Columbia. The invitation is an acknowledgment of sustained US support nearly a year after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Biden has long pledged his unwavering support, having recently sent battle tanks and assorted armored vehicles out of the country to help turn the tide of the war.

The Biden administration has committed over $24 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia invaded Ukraine last February.

Guests representing health care initiatives

Maurice and Kandice Barron they live in New York City with their 3-year-old daughter, Ava, who has survived a rare form of pediatric cancer. The Barrons wrote to Biden to thank him for his recommitment to the Cancer Moonshot initiative, which aims to halve the number of cancer-related deaths in the next 25 years.

Lynette Bonar is a member of the Navajo Nation who served as an Army medic before rejoining the civilian sector as a registered nurse and hospital executive in her hometown of Tuba City, Arizona. She helped open the first cancer center on a Native American reservation, offering oncology services to tribal members who would otherwise have to travel far for treatment.

Deanna Branch of Milwaukee has been fighting for a lead-free environment for her community after one of her sons, Aidan, suffered from lead poisoning due to unsafe levels in their drinking water. Branch and her two children had to move out of their home after realizing it was no longer a safe place to raise a family.

Doug Griffin‘s A 20-year-old daughter, Courtney Griffin, died of a fentanyl overdose in 2014. Doug Griffin is now raising awareness in his home state of New Hampshire and supporting other families struggling with opioid addiction.

Harry Miller is a former Ohio State University football player studying mechanical engineering. In 2022, Miller put his football career on hold to focus on his mental health and is now an advocate for mental and emotional well-being.

Biden’s guests representing economic and infrastructure efforts

Saria Gwin-Maye is an Ohio ironworker and Cincinnati union member who introduced Biden at the Brent Spence Bridge in Covington, Ky., in early January.

Jackie Liszak is the president and CEO of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce and the fire commissioner-elect for the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District in Southwest Florida. Biden and the first lady met Liszak while they were surveying land damage after Hurricane Ian last fall.

Paul Sarzoza is the owner of a cleaning business in Phoenix that serves a semiconductor manufacturing company. He should bring on nearly 200 employees in the next year to meet demand after the technology expansion attributed to the CHIPS Act and the president’s Science.

We represent veterans and their families

Kristin Christensen and her daughter, Avrie Kollmar, they are the caregivers for Christensen’s husband, a disabled Navy veteran who was medically retired due to combat-related injuries. Christensen, a 2021 Elizabeth Dole Foundation fellow, and her daughter an advocate for military family caregivers.

The fight against hatred and antisemitism

Ruth Cohen, special guest of the second gentleman Doug Emhoff, is a Holocaust survivor. She and her family were forced from their home by the Nazis, and she later found herself in the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. She was liberated from the camp in 1945 and immigrated to the United States three years later, and is now a volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC

It represents the education agenda of the Biden-Harris administration

Maurice “Dion” Dykes is training to become a teacher through an unpaid internship program in Knoxville, Tenn., after spending 25 years as a graphic designer.

Kate Foley is a 10th grade student at Rolling Meadows High School in Illinois, where she specializes in computer integrated manufacturing. She hopes to become a biomedical engineer one day.

Other social issues: same-sex marriage, abortion and immigration

Gina and Heidi Nortonsmith were actors in the Goodridge v. Department of Public Health case, which led to Massachusetts becoming the first American state to legalize same-sex marriage. They got married in 2004 on the first day that same-sex marriage licenses were issued by the state.

Amanda Zurawski she was only 18 weeks pregnant when her water broke. She and her husband, Josh, went to the hospital, but doctors couldn’t help because they worried it might violate Texas abortion laws. She almost died from a life-threatening sepsis infection due to delayed treatment.

Mitzi Colin Lopez she was only 3 years old when her parents brought her to the United States from Mexico. As a DREAMer, she applied for and received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2015 and is now an advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.

Read the full descriptions from the White House here.

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