Trump Brought A Lot Of People To The State Of The Union. Their Stories Underscore Why.

When millions of people tuned in to hear the State of the Union, they met several other VIPs.

Some were invited by members of Congress, such as San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and Pulse Nightclub first responder Adam Gruler; and some, like the do-gooders below, got invites from the White House itself.  


When millions of people tuned in on Jan. 30 to hear President Donald Trump's remarks on the State of the Union, they also were introduced to several other VIPs who were guests of honor at the speech. 

Here are some of their stories:

1. Matthew Bradford

The White House

Bradford re-enlisted in the Marines in 2010, undeterred by the 2007 improvised explosive device blast that cost him his vision and his legs during his first tour in Iraq. 

"The amputated legs and the blindness, it's worth it now because [my kids and wife] are going to get a chance to live in a free country," he told KyForward in 2014. "Everything I did, it's for [them]."

2. Jon Bridgers

The White House

Bridgers founded the nonprofit rescue and recovery organization Cajun Navy 2016 amid widespread flooding in south Louisiana. And in 2017, the Cajun Navy broadened its scope and helped Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

"The Lord put something on my heart to make me feel different when that happened," Bridgers told The Advocate of the Louisiana floods. "It's a feeling like I've never really had before."

3. David Dahlberg

The White House

As a fire prevention technician stationed at Pine Canyon Fire Station in the Santa Lucia Ranger District of southern California, Dahlberg helped save dozens of children and camp staff members when a wildfire circled their camp in July.

"It's very well appreciated," 14-year-old camper Ashley Hart told Dahlberg and the other firefighters, per CNN. "You kept our camp safe, and most importantly, you kept all of us children safe."

4. Ryan Holets

The White House

Holets, a police officer in Albuquerque, N.M., and his wife adopted a baby from two parents struggling with opioid addiction.

"There needs to be more people like Ryan and his wife and their family in this world," the baby's mother told CNN.

5. Ashlee Leppert

The White House

Leppert is an aviation electronics technician in the United States Coast Guard who helped save dozens of victims of the 2017 hurricane season. During one helicopter rescue in particular, she lifted a woman and her four children to safety.

6. Preston Sharp

The White House

When Sharp, now 11, visited his grandfather's grave in 2015, he noticed other veterans' graves were not festooned with flowers or flags, so he started the Flag and Flower Challenge and helped place 40,000 flags and flowers on soldiers' graves. 

"We need to honor veterans every day and not just on a holiday," Sharp wrote on his GoFundMe page.

7. Ji Seong-ho

The White House

After defecting from North Korea in 2006, Ji is now a law student at South Korea's Dongguk University and the president of Now Action and Unity for Human Rights.

Like many North Korean defectors, he struggled financially in South Korea, but he never looked back. "I'm definitely happier here," he told Public Radio International in 2012. "The difference between South and North Korea is like the difference between heaven and hell."


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