In his first joint address to Congress Tuesday, President Donald Trump discussed the current state of America, unveiled his plan for the future, and acknowledged ten special people. The ten guests of the president's address are Americans who have defied the odds and overcoming unthinkable circumstances.
Inviting special guests to joint addresses and States of the Union has been a longstanding tradition. It first began in 1982 with Ronald Reagan. Reagan first invited Lenny Skutnik, a federal government employee who dove into the icy Potomac River after the Air Florida crash to save a woman's life. He also acknowledged Mother Clara Hale, a Harlemite who cared for abandoned children.
In addition to honoring exceptional Americans, bringing guests to the joint address provides tangible examples of policies that presidents seek to implement.
Trump's guests this year included individuals suffering from rare illnesses, the widow of a fallen solider, the widow of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and the families of people killed by unauthorized immigrants.
After Trump noted that “Obamacare is collapsing – and we must act decisively to protect all Americans,” he shared a story about a guest named Megan Crowley:
“Today is Rare Disease Day ... Megan was diagnosed with Pompe Disease, a rare and serious illness when she was 15 months old. She was not expected to live past 5. On receiving this news, Megan’s dad, John, fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child. He founded a company to look for a cure, and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life. Today she is 20 years old.”
Under recent administrations, inviting guests has also turned into a form of resistance. Democrats invited immigrants to this year's joint session. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, (D-Ill.) said:
“I want Trump to see the face of a woman, the face of a Muslim, and the face of someone whose family has enriched and contributed to this country despite starting out as refugees.”
Democrats also invited immigrants who have made prominent contributions to the field of medicine.