The White House historically extends invitations to ordinary people to join the first lady in the public gallery of the House chamber during the speech, believing they can help put a human face on an issue or proposal the president will discuss during his annual address.
This year’s guest list suggests gun control, education, immigration, jobs and the economy, health care and voting rights are among the issues Obama planned to highlight. The list includes Kaitlin Roig, of Greenwich, Conn., a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Roig’s school also was the scene of a mass shooting in December that claimed 20 students and six educators at the school.
“Some amazing Americans will be next to me for Barack’s State of the Union address,” Michelle Obama wrote Tuesday on Twitter.
Among those guests included Lt. Brian Murphy, a police lieutenant wounded last summer during a deadly mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.
Also joining the first lady in her box will be Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel A. Pendleton Sr., parents of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed near Obama’s Chicago home days after she returned from performing during inauguration festivities in Washington. Mrs. Obama attended the drum majorette’s funeral on Saturday.
Oak Creek, Wis., police officer Brian Murphy was shot multiple times by a gunman who killed six worshippers in Wisconsin before taking his own life. The veteran policeman is on medical leave from the force while recovering from wounds to his head, neck and body, the White House said.
Other guests include:
— Marine Sgt. Sheena Adams, Vista, Calif., team adviser and lead instructor of the Female Engagement Team.
— Alan Aleman, Las Vegas, a Mexican immigrant and one of the first people in Nevada allowed to stay in the country under an administration initiative for immigrant children of parents in the U.S. without legal permission.
— Jack Andraka, Crownsville, Md., 16-year-old winner of the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
— Susan Bumgarner, Norman, Okla., early childhood educator.
— Deb Carey, New Glarus, Wis., owner of New Glarus Brewing Co.
— Marine Sgt. Carlos Evans, Fayetteville, N.C., who lost both legs and his left hand during service that included three deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. The president signed Evans’ prosthetic arm during a visit to the White House.
— Tim Cook, Cupertino, Calif., CEO of Apple.
— Menchu de Luna Sanchez, Secaucus, N.J., nurse at NYU Langone Medical Center who helped transfer at-risk patients during Hurricane Sandy.
— Bobak Ferdowsi, of Pasadena, Calif., flight director of the Mars Curiosity rover.
— Bradley Henning, Louisville, Ky., machinist, Atlas Machine and Supply.
— Tracey Hepner, Arlington, Va., co-founder, Military Partners and Families Coalition, providing support, resources and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military partners and their families.
— Peter Hudson, Evergreen, Colo., co-founder and CEO of iTriage, a health care company.
— Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber.
— Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers, Avondale, Ariz., the city’s first Latina mayor and current president of the National League of Cities.
— Amanda E. McMillan, Jackson, Miss., victim of pay discrimination.
— Lee Maxwell, Wilton, Iowa, graduate of program at Kirkwood Community College for wind technicians.
— Lisa Richards, Arlington, Va., participant in a White House effort in which people were asked to share stories about what paying $2,200 more in taxes would mean for them and their families.
— Abby Schanfield, Minneapolis, beneficiary of Obama’s health care overhaul.
— Haile Thomas, Tucson, Ariz., a 12-year-old co-founder and director of the HAPPY Organization to help improve the health and wellness of young people.
— Desiline Victor, Miami, who, at age 102, made two trips and waited several hours to vote for Obama last November.
Associated Press writer Suzanne Gamboa contributed to this report.