When President Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, he’ll be doing away with the litany of policy proposals and will instead be laying out his vision for the country. But viewers only have to look up to the First Lady’s box to get a glimpse of what that might entail.
A Syrian refugee, a Mexican immigrant, and the plaintiff of the landmark same-sex marriage case are among the guests invited to the president’s address. The lineup of 23 individuals indicate the broader themes the president is likely to touch on during his address, such as gun control, criminal-justice reform, and immigration, and serve to punctuate his last year and his initiatives. It’s a tradition that dates back to the Reagan administration, and that continues to hold a similar purpose. The White House noted on Sunday that the list represents “who we are as Americans: inclusive and compassionate, innovative and courageous.”
Among those invited are Lisa Jaster, Oscar Vazquez, and Jim Obergefell. Jaster is the first female Army Reserve officer to graduate from Ranger school. Last year, the Army Ranger School had its first three female graduate since the ban on women serving combat roles was lifted.
Vazquez came to the U.S. illegally as a child and later earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering. After graduating, he decided to go back to Mexico and then re-enter the U.S. legally. Upon his return, he enlisted in the army and served one tour in Afghanistan. He has since earned his citizenship. Obergefell became a household name as the plaintiff in the same-sex marriage case that brought about its legalization.