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Some of the notable guests attending Biden's State of the Union address

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Washington — Every year, members of Congress and the first lady invite guests to the State of the Union who they want to honor, thank or use to highlight particular issues.

President Biden is delivering his second State of the Union address on Tuesday, reflecting on the accomplishments of his administration's last two years and laying out his agenda for the coming year as he gears up for another presidential bid

The White House announced Tuesday who will be joining first lady Dr. Jill Biden in her viewing box, and the guest list serves as a road map to the initiatives rolled out by Mr. Biden so far and his priorities for the coming months. Lawmakers can also bring one person as a guest.

Here are the notable people invited to attend Tuesday night as guests of members of Congress or the first lady: 

Tyre Nichols' family

The Congressional Black Caucus first invited Tyre Nichols' family to the president's address, and the White House announced his mother RowVaughn Wells and stepfather Rodney Wells will sit in the first lady's box. 

President Biden Delivers State Of The Union Address
RowVaughn Wells, center, and Rodney Wells, mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was fatally beaten by Memphis police officers, are recognized during President Biden's State of the Union address on Feb. 7, 2023. Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris attended the funeral for the 29-year-old man who died after his violent arrest by Memphis police. Mr. Biden has spoken with Nichols' family, and called the video of the attack on him "outrageous." 

Ukraine's ambassador to the United States

Like last year, when Mr. Biden addressed Congress days after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova will join the first lady as her guest for the State of the Union "in recognition of sustained U.S. support for Ukraine," the White House said.

U.S. Capitol Photo Exhibit on Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova at the Capitol on April 28, 2022. Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


Bono, the lead singer of U2, was invited by the first lady as recognition for his activism fighting HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty. The White House highlighted Bono's work with PEPFAR, which was announced by former President George W. Bush in his State of the Union speech two decades ago, and the ONE Campaign.

U2's Bono attends a reception for the Kennedy Center Honorees in the East Room of the White House on Dec. 4, 2022. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The "Good Samaritan" who called 911 for Rep. Greg Steube 

GOP Rep. Greg Steube, 44, is still recovering from a 25-foot fall from a ladder at his Florida home. But he's inviting Darrell Woodie, an Amazon delivery driver who dialed 911 for him, to the State of the Union as his special guest. 

Steube sustained serious injuries and was placed in intensive care after the incident, but has since been able to return home to continue his recovery. 

The man who disarmed the Monterey Park gunman 

Brandon Tsay, the man who disarmed the suspect who allegedly killed 11 people in Monterey Park, California, shooting last month, will be the guest of the first lady. Tsay disarmed the man at a second location after the shooting, and the White House praised him for preventing the gunman from carrying out another attack.

The Alhambra Lunar New Year Festival
Brandon Tsay, 26, left, receives a medal of courage from the Alhambra Police Department on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Alhambra, California. Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Volunteer firefighter who responded to 9/11 terror attacks

Embattled Rep. George Santos, a New York Republican, announced his guest for the State of the Union will be Michael Weinstock, a volunteer firefighter and EMT who responded to Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001. In the days after the attack, he also helped clear rubble and search for survivors, working alongside firefighters on the "bucket brigade."

In 2021, Weinstock was diagnosed with neuropathy, a condition with no known cure. He is encouraging the World Trade Center Health Program to add neuropathy as a covered condition.

Officer who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6

House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi's office said former Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonnell will be her guest Tuesday night. His presence will emphasize the ongoing impact of the Jan. 6., 2021, assault on the Capitol.

Gonell, who defended the Capitol against the attackers, remembers hearing cries claiming that he was not an American, and that he was a traitor. Gonnell has been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, and the Carnegie Corporation has honored him as a "Great Immigrant," but he has long dealt with the physical and psychological pain from that day two years ago. 

Holocaust survivor Ruth Cohen

Cohen is a guest of second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, who has spoken out forcefully against antisemitism and embarked on a six-day trip overseas last month to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Emhoff is the first Jewish spouse of a U.S. president or vice president.

His guest, Cohen, was sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp after she and her family were forced from their home. She was liberated in 1945 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1948. 

Paul Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi's husband

Sitting in the first lady's viewing box will be Paul Pelosi, the husband of the former House speaker. Paul Pelosi, 82, was attacked in late October at their San Francisco home and suffered a fractured skull and injuries to his arms and hands.

Paul Pelosi at State of the Union address
Paul Pelosi, husband of former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), acknowledges applause after President Joe Biden spoke about him during the State of the Union address on February 7, 2023. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Video of the attack was made public last month showing the assault by the alleged attacker, David DePape. Police said DePape intended to kidnap Nancy Pelosi and told officers he wanted to "break her kneecaps." According to court filings, DePape asked "where's Nancy?" when he confronted Paul Pelosi. 

Former NBA player Enes Freedom

Enes Freedom, a former NBA center who has spoken out against human rights abuses, will attend the State of the Union as a guest of Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Freedom, who changed his last name from Kanter in 2021, was raised in Turkey and moved to the U.S. at the age of 17. A vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Freedom also sought to raise awareness of China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims. He pushed for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and called Chinese President Xi Jinping a "brutal dictator."

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