President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania chose to honor victims of violence and recognize administration successes with their 2019 State of the Union guest list.
Members of Congress are able to invite one guest to the State of the Union address, whether that be a family member or an individual representative of the lawmaker’s platform. Sen. Ed Markey, for example, has invited Varshini Prakash, the executive director and co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, an organization in support of the Green New Deal.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez invited the woman who confronted Jeff Flake in an elevator ahead of the confirmation vote on now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Ana Maria Archila and Ocasio-Cortez will be wearing matching pins reading, “Well behaved women rarely make history.”
The president frequently invites several guests to sit alongside their spouse during the address. Last year, the president’s guests were largely members of the military. While some servicemen do appear on this year’s list, the Trumps invited plenty of civilians as well, representing various areas of the president’s platform: immigration, gun violence, substance abuse, jobs, and more.
Here are the president’s guests for the 2019 State of the Union:
This sixth-grader from Wilmington, Delaware, says he has been bullied at school due to his last name. First Lady Melania Trump launched her “Be Best” campaign in 2018, which in part aims to prevent bullying.
Debra Bissell, Heather Armstrong, and Madison Armstrong
These three women are the daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of Gerald and Sharon David—an elderly couple of Reno, Nevada, who were allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant last month.
Hernandez is a special agent with the Trafficking in Persons Unit within the Department of Homeland Security. He investigates organized crime groups involved in international human trafficking. Trump recently argued that building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border would help fight trafficking.
Matson, a SWAT member of the Pittsburgh Police Department, was wounded when responding to the mass shooting that left 11 dead at the Tree of Life Synagogue in October 2018. Trump visited Pittsburgh shortly after the shooting, despite Jewish leaders in the community saying he was not welcome unless he stops targeting minorities.
Samet is a Holocaust survivor and a member of the Tree of Life Synagogue present during the attack. He immigrated to Israel after the war, and then came to the United States in the 1960s.
Evans is just over a year sober after suffering a relapse of opioid and substance abuse during her pregnancy in 2017—the same year Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. On February 15, Evans will be reunited with her daughter full-time.
James is the manager at Vicksburg Forest Products, a sawmill in Mississippi, where he has worked for 26 years. The mill planned to close its doors, but reopened after receiving preferential tax treatment through provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The act, passed by Trump in 2017, reportedly created vastly fewer jobs than promised while reducing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.
The White House says Charles was the first prisoner released under Trump’s First Step Act, legislation that moved to reform the criminal justice system and lessen overly-punitive federal prison sentences. Charles was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 1996 for selling crack cocaine and other related offenses. While incarcerated, Charles began studying religion, became a law clerk, taught GED classes, and mentored fellow inmates. He was released on January 3.
Trump granted Johnson clemency in June 2018. The 63-year-old grandmother had been 22 years into a life sentence without parole for a first-time drug offense. Reality television personality Kim Kardashian pushed for her release.
Wibberley is the father of Navy Seaman Craig Wibberley, who was killed on the USS Cole during a 2000 terrorist attack when he was 19 years old. Suicide bombers killed 17 U.S. sailors in October 2000 while the USS Cole was refueling at a Yemen port.
Eline was diagnosed with Germinoma, a germ-cell brain tumor, at the age of nine. She began cancer treatment in May of last year, and is now cancer-free. A White House statement recognizes her “kind heart and infectious smile.”