List of Acknowledged Guests Sitting in House Gallery

List of Acknowledged Guests Sitting in the House Gallery During State of the Union Addresses

This is a list of people "acknowledged" by the president during the speech. The list is based on the tradition started by Reagan in 1982 in which he acknowledged Lenny Skutnik in his speech text. From that point on, with few exceptions, presidents have directly referenced some guests. Individuals invited by the president or first lady, but not acknowledged in the president's speech, are not included in this list.

      * denotes addresses not considered official State of the Union messages



Date Guest
Ronald Reagan


  January 26, 1982 
  • Lenny Skutnik: Federal Government employee who dove into the icy Potomic River after the Air Florida crash to save a woman
  January 25, 1983 


  January 25, 1984 
  • Sgt. Stephen Trujillo: Sergeant, US Army who participated in the U.S. involvement in Grenada
  February 6, 1985 
  • Mother Clara Hale: from Harlem, NYC, New York who cares for abandoned children
  • Cadet Jean Nguyen: Cadet, United States Military Academy at West Point
  February 4, 1986 
  • Trevor Ferrell: 13-year old who helps the homeless in Philadelphia
  • Shelby Butler: 13-year old school safety patrol hero
  • Tyrone Ford: 12-year old music prodigy
  • Richard Cavoli: private citizen who designed a science experiment in high school that was lost during the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger
  January 27, 1987 


  January 25, 1988 
  • Nancy Reagan: First Lady, in recognition of her anti-drug efforts
George Bush    
  *February 9, 1989 


  January 31, 1990 
  • Gov. Carroll Campbell: Governor (R-SC) who worked with the president in setting national education goals
  • Gov. Terry Branstad: Governor (R-IA) who worked with the president in setting national education goals
  • Gov. Bill Clinton: Governor (D-AR) who worked with the president in setting national education goals
  • Gov. Booth Gardner: Governor (D-WA) who worked with the president in setting national education goals
  January 29, 1991 
  • Alma Powell: wife of General Colin Powell
  • Brenda Schwarzkopf: wife of General Norman Schwarzkopf
  January 28, 1992 


William J. Clinton


  *February 17, 1993 


  January 25, 1994 
  • Kevin Jett: New York City police officer
  • Jim Brady: former Reagan Press Secretary who was wounded in the 1981 attempt to assassinate President Reagan
  January 24, 1995 
  • Jack Lucas: Congressional Medal of Honor receipient who fought at Iwo Jima - from Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  • Reverend Diana Cherry: AME Zion Church in Temple Hills, MD
  • Reverend John Cherry: AME Zion Church in Temple Hills, MD
  • Cpl. Gregory Depestre: who participated in U.S. involvement in Haiti
  • Chief Stephen Bishop: Police Chief, Kansas City, MO active in community policing
  • Cindy Perry: Kentucky teacher in the AmeriCorps Program
  January 23, 1996 
  • Sgt. Jennifer Rodgers: Sergeant, Oklahoma City Police Department who helped save victims of the bombing of the Federal Building
  • Lucius Wright: Teacher in Jackson, MS who works to keep kids from joining gangs
  • Richard Dean: Social Security Administration employee in Oklahoma City who assisted victims of the bombing of the Federal Building
  • Gen. Barry McCaffrey: as nominee to become Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
  February 4, 1997 
  • Gov. Gary Locke: Governor (D-WA) who is the first Chinese-American state governor
  • Mary Alice (Tejeda?): sister of Texas Congressman Frank Tejeda who was buried the day before the President's address
  • Lillie Tejeda: mother of Texas Congressman Frank Tejeda who was buried the day before the President's address
  • Dr. Kristen Zarfos: Connecticut surgeon
  • Sue Winski: from Illinois, teacher of students Tanner and Getsler
  • Chris Getsler: from Illinois, among students who tied for first in the world in science and came in second in math in the Third International Math and Science Study
  • Kristen Tanner: from Illinois, among students who tied for first in the world in science and came in second in math in the Third International Math and Science Study
  January 27, 1998 
  • Sgt. Michael Tolbert: Sergeant, US Army who participated in U.S. involvement in Bosnia
  • Elaine Kinslow: private citizen from Indianapolis, IN who was noted as a model of someone coming off welfare
  January 19, 1999 
  • Rosa Parks: Civil Rights pioneer
  • Suzann Wilson: a gun-control advocate from Jonesboro, Arkansas
  • Sammy Sosa: professional baseball player, Chicago Cubs
  • Captain Jeff Taliaferro: U.S. Air Force who flew a B-1B bomber over Iraq in Operation Desert Fox
  • Tipper Gore: wife of Vice-President Al Gore who led efforts to address mental illness
  • Wenling Chestnut: widow of Capitol police officer killed in the line of duty
  • Lyn Gibson: widow of Capitol police officer killed in the line of duty
  January 27, 2000 
  • Hank Aaron: former professional baseball player and career home run leader
  • Janet Cohen: wife of Defense Secretary William Cohen who worked to show public support for service personnel
  • Captain John Cherrey: U.S. Air Force pilot who rescued an American pilot shot down over Bosnia
  • Tom Mauser: father of Daniel Mauser who was killed during a rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado
  • Carlos Rosas: private citzen from St. Paul, MN
  • Lloyd Bentsen: former U.S. Senator and Clinton's first Treasury Secretary 
George W. Bush    
  *February 27, 2001 
  • Josefina Ramos: private citizen from Pennsylvania whom the Presiden't cited as an example of an ordinary American who would be advantaged by tax cuts
  • Steven Ramos: private citizen from Pennsylvania whom the Presiden't cited as an example of an ordinary American who would be advantaged by tax cuts
  • Mayor John Street: Mayor of Philadelphia who promoted faith-based initiatives
  January 29, 2002 
  • Christina Jones: flight attendant who helped thwart an attempt to detonate a "shoe bomb"
  • Hermis Moutardier: flight attendant who helped thwart an attempt to detonate a "shoe bomb"
  • Shannon Spann: widow of CIA officer Michael Spann who was killed in Afghanistan
  • Dr. Sima Samar: Afghanistan's Minister of Women's Affairs
  • Chairman Hamid Karzai: leader of Afghanistan
  January 28, 2003         None
  January 20, 2004 
  • Adnan Pachachi: President of the Iraqi Governing Council
  February 2, 2005 
  • Safia Taleb al-Suhail: an Iraqi democracy and human rights activist whose father was killed by Saddam Hussein
  • Bill Norwood: father of Marine Corps Sergeant Byron Norwood of Pflugerville, Texas who was killed during the assult on Fallujah in Iraq
  • Janet Norwood: mother of Marine Corps Sergeant Byron Norwood of Pflugerville, Texas who was killed during the assult on Fallujah in Iraq
  January 31, 2006 
  • Bud Clay: father of Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Dan Clay who was killed in Fallujah in Iraq
  • Sara Jo Clay: mother of Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Dan Clay who was killed in Fallujah in Iraq
  • Lisa Clay: widow of Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Dan Clay who was killed in Fallujah in Iraq
  January 23, 2007 
  • Sergeant Tommy Rieman: volunteer member of the U.S. Army who earned the Silver Star for bravery in action
  • Wesley Autrey: hero who jumped onto subway tracks in Harlem to save a man
  • Julie Aigner-Clark: businesswoman who started the Baby Einstein Company. After being bought by the Walt Disney Corporation, it has grown into a $200 million business. After her business success she devotes time helping missing and exploited children.
  • Dikembe Mutombo: Georgetown and NBA basketball star from Africa who earned U.S. citizenship and later built a hospital in his native Congo.
  January 28, 2008         None
Barack Obama


  *February 24, 2009 
  • Leonard Abess: "a bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him."
  • Ty'Sheoma Bethea: a schoolgirl from Dillon, South Carolina who wrote a letter to members of Congress asking for help to revitalize her school.
  January 27, 2010         None
  January 25, 2011 
  • Robert and Gary Allen: Partners in the family business, Allen Brothers Inc., a roofing products manufacturing company. With the help of $500,000 from the Recovery Act, the Allen brothers were able to retool half of their manufacturing facility.
  • Kathy Proctor: When she was laid off in 2009, Kathy began taking classes in biotechnology at Forsyth Technical Community College. Kathy will graduate in July 2011, with an Associate Degree in Science.
  • James Howard: Diagnosed with brain cancer in March 2010. He was able to join the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan to get medical treatment.
  • Jim Houser: Owner of an auto repair shop in Portland, Oregon. The Affordable Care Act provides tax credits for his small business to offer employees health insurance.
  • Brandon Fisher: Owner of a small business, Center Rock, in Berlin, Pennsylvania that specializes in a new kind of drilling technology. Center Rock manufactured the drill bits and other equipment used to find and rescue 33 trapped Chilean miners in October 2010.
  January 24, 2012 
  • Jackie Bray: "a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic. Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College. The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training. It paid Jackie's tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant."
  • Bryan Ritterby: "was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried that at 55, no one would give him a second chance. But he found work at Energetx, a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan. Before the recession, the factory only made luxury yachts. Today, it's hiring workers like Bryan, who said, 'I'm proud to be working in the industry of the future.'"
  February 12, 2013
  • Nate and Cleo Pendleton: The parents of Hadiya Pendleton, a majorette who performed with her classmates at the President's second inauguration. Hadiya was killed by gunfire in a Chicago park just a week after the inauguration.
  • Menchu Sanchez: A New York City nurse who cared for 20 newborn children during Hurricane Sandy.
  • Desiline Victor: A 102 year-old woman from North Miami who waited six hours to vote in the 2012 Election.
  • Brian Murphy: A police officer from Wisconsin who was a first responder to a shooting at a Sikh temple. He continued to fight the shooters and was shot 12 times.
  January 28, 2014
  • Andra Rush: Started Detroit Manufacturing Systems and found trained employees through an "American Jobs Center".
  • Misty DeMars: A mother and wife who has been employed since she was a teenager who lost needed unemployment benefits when Congress chose not to extend unemployment compensation benefits.
  • Estiven Rodriguez: The son of a factory worker who emigrated to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic and learned English at age nine. He recently was admitted to college.
  • Nick Chute and his employer John Soranno who owns "Punch Pizza" in Minneapolis. Soranno voluntarily decided to raise his workers' wages above the minimum wage to $10 per hour.
  • Amanda Shelley: A physician's assistant and single mom from Arizona who previously could not obtain health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Under the Affordable Care Act, she was able to obtain a policy and days later, needed emergency surgery and was covered.
  • Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky: Acknowledged by the president as a governor committed to making sure his state's citizens have health insurance.
  • Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg: An Army Ranger who was almost killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. "Over the years, he's endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, hours of grueling rehab every day."
  January 20, 2015
  • Rebekah and Ben Erler: A young couple from Minneapolis who saved money, worked hard, enrolled in community college, and eventually were able to save enough to buy a home and get well-paying jobs. Presented by the president as an example of a typical middle-class family he seeks to represent.
  • Captain Scott Kelly: An astronaut who will begin a year-long stay in space as an experiment for a future manned mission to Mars.
  • Alan Gross: A contractor employed by the U.S. Agency for International Development who was imprisoned in Cuba for bringing phones and computer equipment into the country. His release on December 17, 2014 is considered to be an element of the thawing of U.S.-Cuban relations that began that month.
  January 12, 2016


Donald J. Trump


  *February 28, 2017 
  • Megan Crowley: At 15 months old, Megan was diagnosed with Pompe Disease and not expected to live more than a few short years. To look for a cure, her father founded Novazyme Pharmaceuticals, a five-person startup that he built into a 100-person company. Megan, age 20, is now a sophomore at Notre Dame.
  • Jessica Davis & Susan Oliver: Widows of Detective Michael Davis and Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver, who were California police officers killed in the line of duty in 2014 by an illegal immigrant. Their names are memorialized in the Davis-Oliver bill, which is aimed to increase cooperation between Federal and local officials to enforce our Nation's immigration laws.
  • Denisha Merriweather: After struggling with coursework as a child and switching schools often, Denisha moved in with her godmother and enrolled in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. She began going to a private school, Esprit de Corps Center for Learning, and would go on to be the first member of her family to graduate from high school and college.
  • Maureen McCarthy Scalia: Widow of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • Jamiel Shaw, Sr.: Mr. Shaw's son, Jamiel Jr., was a high school football star before he was tragically shot by an illegal immigrant, who was also a gang member, in 2008.
  • Carryn Owens: Widow of U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens, a SEAL, who was killed in the Yakla raid in Yemen on January 29, 2017.
  January 30, 2018
  • Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert: An aviation electronics technician, she rescued dozens of Americans during the devastating hurricane season, including lifting a woman and four children to safety in a basket.
  • David Dahlberg: A fire prevention technician in southern California. He saved 62 children and staff members in July 2017 from a raging wildfire that encircled their camp.
  • Steve Staub and Sandy Keplingerg: These siblings started Staub Manufacturing Solutions, and thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, they have grown their team from 23 to 37 employees over the last year, acquired a new building for expansion, and given all their employees larger Christmas bonuses
  • Corey AdamsA skilled welder at Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Ohio [see preceding].
  • Preston Sharp: Preston has organized the placement of more than 40,000 American flags and red carnations on soldiers’ graves.
  • Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens:  the parents of Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas, who had been close friends since elementary school.  In September 2016, the two girls were chased down and brutally murdered by MS-13.
  • Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Celestino MartinezHe spent much of his 15-year tenure working with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations to dismantle criminal organizations, resulting in more than 100 arrests of MS-13 gang members who were prosecuted for crimes including homicide, assault, and narcotics and weapons trafficking.
  • Ryan Holets: Police Officer Holetes and his wife adopted a baby from parents who suffered from opioid addiction, breaking down walls between drug addicts and police officers to help save lives.
  • Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck: While clearing explosives in Raqqa, Syria, Sergeant Peck hereoically rescued  a badly wounded comrade.  Today, Raqqa is liberated, and Justin is wearing his new Bronze Star, with a "V" for valor.
  • Fred and Cindy Warmbier: Parents of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student when he was detained in the Pyongyang airport in North Korea. Otto spent 17 months in captivity before being released in severe condition and passing away four days after his return to the United States.
  • Mr. Ji Sung-ho A North Korean defector who grew up during the country’s grueling famine in the 1990s. In 2006, he escaped to South Korea, where he is now a law student at Dongguk University and the president of Now Action and Unity for Human Rights.
  February 5, 2019
  • Alice Johnson President Trump granted Alice Johnson clemency on June 6, 2018.  Alice had been serving a mandatory life sentence without parole for charges associated with a nonviolent drug case.  During her nearly 22 years of incarceration, Alice accomplished what has been called an “extraordinary rehabilitation.”  After her release, she was overjoyed to be reunited with her family.  She has now dedicated her life to helping those who are in a similar position as she was and giving a voice to the criminal justice reform movement.
  • Matthew Charles:  Matthew Charles’s life is a story of redemption.  In 1996, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison for selling crack cocaine and other related offenses.  While in prison, Matthew found God, completed more than 30 bible studies, became a law clerk, taught GED classes, and mentored fellow inmates.  On January 3, 2019, Matthew was the first prisoner released as a result of the First Step Act.
  • Debra Bissell, Heather Armstrong, Madison Armstrong Gerald and Sharon David of Reno, Nevada, were tragically murdered in their home in Nevada by an illegal immigrant in January 2019.  The terrible loss has devastated both their community and three generations of their family who will be represented at the State of the Union: the Davids’ daughter Debra, granddaughter Heather, and great-granddaughter Madison.
  • Elvin Hernandez:  Elvin Hernandez is a Special Agent with the Trafficking in Persons Unit of the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations division.  He has more than 18 years of Federal law enforcement experience investigating narcotics, gangs, and human trafficking.  During his current 7-year assignment, Elvin has conducted numerous successful international human trafficking investigations involving transnational organized crime groups.
  • Grace ElineEveryone who knows Grace would tell you that she has always been special.  Wherever she goes, she brightens the room with her kind heart and infectious smile.  At an early age, she decided that she wanted to forgo gifts at her birthday parties, and instead ask for charity donations.  At 9 years old, Grace was diagnosed with Germinoma, a germ-cell brain tumor, and in May 2018, Grace started cancer treatment.  Throughout the rest of the year, Grace stayed positive and strong, making the rounds in the hospital, cheering up other patients, and always having a smile for the many caring medical professionals who treated her.  Grace recently finished chemotherapy and today shows no evidence of the disease.  She is determined to help other children who are fighting cancer.
  • Tom Wibberley:  Tom Wibberley is the father of Navy Seaman Craig Wibberley, a Seaman killed on the U.S.S. Cole.  Craig grew up in Williamsport, Maryland, and enjoyed fly fishing, snow skiing, and working with his father on old Corvettes.  He had a passion for computer science and decided to join the Navy to serve his country and pursue an opportunity to further his training in computers.  Craig served aboard the U.S.S. Cole with distinction and was accepted to the Navy Information Technician School.  His commander planned to recommend him for Officer Candidate School.  However, on October 12, 2000, Craig and 16 fellow members of the crew were killed in a terrorist attack.  Craig was only 19.  After Craig’s death, a scholarship fund was created that gives out four $ 1,000 scholarships each year to students studying computer science.
  • Timothy Matson Timothy Matson joined the Pittsburgh Police Department in 2005 and made the SWAT team in 2016.  As a key member of the SWAT team, he would breach the entrance during raids, a very dangerous task.  In October 2018, Tim responded to the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue.  He suffered multiple gunshot wounds and saved countless lives in that heinous, anti-Semitic attack.
  • Judah Samet Judah Samet is a member of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.  In October 2018, he survived the horrific shooting that killed 11 members of his community.  Judah is also a survivor of the Holocaust.  Judah immigrated to Israel after the war and was present for the declaration of the Israeli State in 1948.  He served as a paratrooper and radio-man in the Israeli Defense Forces and moved to the United States in the 1960s.
  • Joshua Kaufman Joshua Kaufman endured the horrors of Auschwitz and survived the Dachau Concentration Camp, where he was saved by American soldiers.  By the end of the war, Joshua had lost most of his family.  He left Europe for Israel in 1949 and joined the Israel Defense Forces, fighting in several wars.  While on vacation in Los Angeles, Joshua met and married his wife, Margaret.  He then moved to the United States and became a licensed plumber.  Joshua and Margaret have been happily married for 43 years and have 4 children and 4 grandchildren.
  • Irving Locker American veteran Irving Locker landed at Utah Beach on D-Day with the 116th AAA gun battalion.  He fought through five major battles of World War II, including the Battle of the Bulge, and later helped liberate a Holocaust Concentration Camp.   Irving is dedicated to educating the next generation and making certain all Americans remember the trials and victories of World War II.
  • Private Joseph Reilly The night before American soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy, Joseph Reilly and the 101st Airborne Division parachuted behind enemy lines.  He and his fellow soldiers helped secure Utah Beach and the first foothold in America’s liberation of Western Europe.  Joseph also fought in Operation Market Garden, Battle of the Bulge, and the battle of the Ruhr Pocket.  He now lives in San Diego, California.
  • Herman Zeitchik: At age 18, Herman Zeitchik was among the 4th Infantry Division soldiers who landed at Utah Beach early on the morning of June 6, 1944.  He helped liberate Paris, hold back the Nazis at the Battle of the Bulge, and free starving prisoners at the Dachau Concentration Camp.  Herman is a Knight in the French Legion of Honor.  He is married to the love of his life, Janet, and has two daughters, Linda and Carol.
  • Buzz Aldrin:  Buzz Aldrin is one of the most famous astronauts in history.  He and Neil Armstrong were the first men to set foot on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission.  Fifty years ago, Buzz planted the American Flag on the face of the moon.  He has written 9 books, is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, and is a tireless advocate for space exploration and discovery.
  February 4, 2020
  • Tony Rankins:  After serving in the United States Army in Afghanistan, Tony Rankins suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and became addicted to drugs.  He lost his job and his family, served several prison sentences, and ended up living out of his car.  A company called “R Investments” helped train Tony in carpentry, painting, brick-work, and other construction trades.  Today, he works in an Opportunity Zone in Cincinnati, Ohio, and his new job has helped him overcome drug addiction and reunite with his family.
  • Juan GuaidóJuan Guaidó is the Interim President of Venezuela and leader of the democratically elected Venezuelan National Assembly.  After the National Assembly invoked the Venezuelan constitution and declared their nation’s dictator illegitimate, the United States became the first country to recognize Guaidó.  Today, the United States leads a coalition of nearly 60 countries in support of the Venezuelan people in their struggle for freedom and democracy.
  • Iain LanphierEight grader Iain Lanphier is the great-grandson of Tuskegee Airman Charles McGee.  Iain hopes to write the next chapter in his family’s remarkable story by attending the Air Force Academy and eventually going to space.  Last summer, he was the top graduate of the Aerospace Career Education program sponsored by the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals and supported by the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
  • Retired Brigadier General Charles McGee After earning his wings in 1943, Tuskegee Airman Charles McGee flew a total of 409 aerial fighter combat missions during 30 years of military service.  He is a veteran of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.  General McGee recently participated in the Super Bowl LIV coin toss and had his stars pinned to his uniform the day of President Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address.  General McGee is an American hero who has rendered invaluable service to his country.
  • Janiyah and Stephanie DavisJaniyah is a fourth grade student from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  She loves art and math, but for too long she has been assigned to low-performing schools.  Her mom, Stephanie, is a hard working single mother who is hoping for the expansion of school choice to be able to send Janiyah to a school that best serves her needs.
  • Rush Limbaugh Rush Limbaugh is a legendary radio host with millions of loving fans.  His radio show has been on the air for more than three decades and has had an incalculable effect on American politics and government.  Limbaugh is a champion of the Constitution, advocate of civic engagement, and a committed patriot.  His extraordinary contribution to American life was recognized during President Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address where Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • Ellie and Robin SchneiderEllie was born at just 21 weeks and six days.  She is one of the youngest babies to survive in the United States.  With the help of an incredible medical team – and the prayers of her parents and their community -- Ellie kept beating the odds, exceeding milestones, and fighting for life.  Today, Ellie is a happy, healthy two-year-old girl who brings endless joy to her mother, Robin, and her entire family.
  • Jody JonesOn December 17, 2018, Jody’s brother, Rocky Jones, was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant in Tulare County, California.  The criminal alien who committed this brutal murder had previously been arrested for violent crimes and had been deported twice.  The criminal alien was arrested in December 2018 for the sixth time, but because of California’s sanctuary state policy, he was released from jail.  A few days later, the criminal alien went on a 24-hour “reign of terror,” injuring several people, robbing a gas station, leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase, and killing 51-year old Rocky, who was known as a kind and gentle soul. Rocky leaves behind a precious daughter and 4 brothers who are still grieving the loss of their loved one.
  • Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz Deputy Chief Ortiz has helped protect America’s homeland for nearly three decades.  Prior to joining U.S. Border Patrol in 1991, Ortiz served in the United States Army.  In 2019, he became Chief Patrol Agent of the Del Rio Sector, which made him responsible for all Border Patrol operations in 41 Texas counties—including 210 miles of border between the United States and Mexico.  Recently, Ortiz was promoted to Deputy Chief of U.S. Border Patrol, the second in command for more than 20,000 agents and professional staff. His awards include the Superior Civilian Service Medal, among the Department of Defense’s highest civilian honors.
  • Carl and Marsha Mueller Carl and Marsha Mueller’s daughter, Kayla, was a devoted humanitarian aid worker who was kidnapped by ISIS on her way back from a Doctors without Borders hospital in Aleppo.  Kayla was held captive and tortured by the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, before being murdered.  On October 26, 2019, President Trump ordered a successful U.S. Special Forces raid that killed Kayla’s captor.
  • Kelli and Gage Hake Kelli Hake was at home with her one-year-old son, Gage, when she received the terrible news that her her husband, Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Hake, had been killed serving on his second tour of duty in Iraq.  While on patrol, Sergeant Hake’s Bradley fighting vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb supplied by the Iranian terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani.  Kelli and Gage directly suffered from Soleimani’s campaign to kill and maim U.S. service members.  Last month, President Donald J. Trump ordered the killing of Soleimani as he was once again trying to initiate attacks on American service members.
  • Amy, Elliana, and Rowan Williams: Amy works full-time and volunteers countless hours helping other military families. For the past seven months, she has done it all while her husband, Sergeant First Class Townsend Williams, is in Afghanistan on his fourth deployment in the Middle East. Amy's kids haven't seen their father's face in many months. Amy’s family's sacrifice makes it possible for all of our families to live in safety and in peace)


 Joseph R. Biden    
  April 28, 2021

       (Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, few guests were present
       and none were referenced in the president's address.)

  March 1, 2022
  • Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the United States. At the time this State of the Union was delivered, Ukraine had been invaded by Russia and was under attack.
  • Patrick Gelsinger, Chief Executive Officer of Intel Corporation.  The president announced that Intel has committed to spending billions of dollars in investment in microchip manufacturing in the United States.
  • Joseph “JoJo” Burgess, New Employee Organization Trainer, United Steelworkers Local 1557.  Acknowledged as an example of a steelworker who will be part of building American infrastructure.
  • Joshua DavisJoshua is a 7th grade student at Swift Creek Middle School in Virginia. Joshua and his father have Type 1 diabetes and stand to benefit from legislation that would lower the cost of insulin.
  • Frances Haugen, Former Facebook Lead Product Manager on Civic Misinformation. She exposed thousands of internal Facebook documents related to issues involving online cyber-bullying, among other problems related to the social media platform.
  • Danielle Robinson, Surviving Spouse of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson.  Her husband, stationed near burn pits in Kosovo and Iraq developed cancer.  The president suspects some cancers may be a result of having been exposed to these pits and announced a new VA initiative to treat additional respiratory diseases.
  February 7, 2023
  • Saria Gwin-Maye, a Cincinnati ironworker (member of Ironworkers Local 44). She will work on the Brent Spence Bridge project which was funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
  • Rodney and RowVaughn Wells, the parents of Tyre Nichols. On January 7, 2023, Nichols was severely beaten by Memphis, Tennessee police officers and died three days later.  At the time of this Address, five officers had been charged with second-degree murder.
  • Brandon Tsay. Mr. Tsay disarmed a gunman at the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra, California. About 17 minutes earlier, the gunman killed 11 people at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California.
  • Doug Newton. Mr. Newton's daughter, Courtney, died of a fentanyl overdose in September 2014 at age 20. He has worked since then to promote awareness of addiction and better access to treatment.
  • Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the United States. Ambassador Markarova was in attendance and acknowledged in the previous year's State of the Union. Russia invaded Ukraine almost a year prior to this Address, and the war continued to rage.
  • Maurice and Kandice Barron. The Barron's daughter Ava survived a rare form of pediatric cancer. Her struggle with the disease provides an illustration of the importance of continuing to fund the "Cancer Moonshot."
  • Paul PelosiMr. Pelosi is married to Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), former Speaker of the House of Representatives. Mr. Pelosi was attacked in his home by an intruder who was seeking to harm the Speaker.
  March 7, 2024
  • Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of Sweden. Sweden officially joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on the morning this State of the Union Address was delivered.
  • Latorya Beasley, a social worker from Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. Beasley previously had a child with the assistance of in vitro fertilization (IVF). She hopes to have another child using IVF but an Alabama Supreme Court decision declaring that an embryo is a "child" had the effect of banning the use of IVF.
  • Kate Cox, a woman from Dallas Texas. Ms. Cox was pregnant and her fetus developed a fatal condition.  Ms. Cox had to leave the state of Texas to receive potentially life-saving medical care because of Texas law banning abortions.
  • United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain and UAW member Dawn Simms. The President participated in UAW picketing in 2023 during the auto workers' strike.
  • Keenan Jones, a public educator in Minnesota.  Mr. Jones was a recipient of student loan debt forgiveness.
  • Bettie Mae Fikes, known as the "Voice of Selma". Ms. Fikes is a civil rights activist who participated in the Bloody Sunday events in Selma, Alabama in 1965.

Compiled by Gerhard Peters, John Woolley.

Citation: Gerhard Peters. "Guests Sitting in the House Gallery During State of the Union Addresses." The American Presidency Project. Ed. John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California. 1999-2024. Available from the World Wide Web: