Boston bombing survivors, gay pro athlete to sit in First Lady's box
January 27th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
8 months ago

Boston bombing survivors, gay pro athlete to sit in First Lady's box

Washington (CNN) — Survivors of two 2013 disasters — both natural and made-made — will be honored guests at Tuesday’s State of the Union address alongside Jason Collins, the former NBA center who in 2013 became the first openly gay male athlete in one of the four major American pro leagues.

Invitees to the First Lady’s box at the annual address to Congress are usually chosen either for their bravery — last year’s included a Medal of Honor winner — or to illustrate a policy the President is advocating during his time in front of the cameras. In 2012 Obama invited Warren Buffett’s secretary to help push raising taxes for wealthy Americans.

The White House said on Monday it was inviting two survivors of last year’s Boston Marathon bombings — Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman — to the 2014 speech. The pair were featured in a now-iconic photo of the tragedy: Arredondo, wearing a white cowboy hat, rushed the the aide of Bauman after the blasts near the marathon’s finish line. Bauman later helped identify the brothers accused of planting the bombs, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Obama, who spoke the afternoon after the bombing took place, later traveled to Boston to attend a memorial service for the attack’s three victims.

The White House said Monday it had also invited Moore, Oklahoma’s fire chief, Gary Bird, to the State of the Union speech. Moore was the site of a massive tornado in May that left 25 people dead as it tore through town. Bird led a team of search-and-rescuers that pulled survivors from the wreckage.

As he did after the Boston terror attack, Obama visited Moore in the days after the tornado swept through to tour damage and meet survivors.

Collins made history in April when he came out as gay in a “Sports Illustrated" column.

Previously, no active male player in a major American sport had said he was gay. Obama called Collins on the week of the announcement and told reporters at the end of a press conference he was “very proud” of the player.

“I think America should be proud that this is just one more step in this ongoing recognition that we treat everybody fairly, and everybody's part of a family, and we judge people on the basis of their character and their performance, and not their sexual orientation," Obama said.

Other guests will include Kathy Hollowell-Makle, named Washington, D.C.’s teacher of the year, and Joey Hudy, who first met Obama at a White House science fair where he was showing a marshmallow cannon.


Filed under: Michelle Obama • State of the Union
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "BIG difference between a foreign policy incident and a terrorist attack, Counselor. Rudy's a spin doctor."

    Huh? Are you kidding? The GOP/Teatrolls would love nothing more than to point at several dozen dead bodies and say "Obama done made us less safe!!!" They tipped their cards in how they reacted to the Boston incident.

    January 27, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  2. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    "BIG difference between a foreign policy incident and a terrorist attack, Counselor. Rudy's a spin doctor."
    --------––
    Excuse me, Fair, but didn't the hostage crisis begin with an attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran?
    ------–
    "One part of the 47% tape that didn't receive nearly as much discussion as it probably should have was Mitt Romney suggesting a strategy of taking a terrorist attack and making it into a political wedge issue against Pres. Obama."

    Your words, not mine. The context was the Iranian nuclear program. Spin.

    January 27, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  3. tom l

    @Sniffit,
    I honestly don't recall the repubs reaction to the Boston incident. What did they do that was wrong? And as one of those "Teatrollers" I would say that I would not be happy at all by any terrorist attack that would kill fellow Americans.

    January 27, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  4. just me

    Tom, your personal feelings aside, there are many on the right that see every snippet of economic news as an oppurtunity to bash Obama. every month when the job numbers are released within minutes there's a repub with a microphone wailing about how dismal they are. This is true no matter what the actual numbers may be, 100K, 200K, 250K, whatever. meanwhile I'm still waiting for the House to pass its' first jobs bill without poison pills embedded. And no, approving one Canadien pipeline would not be a jobs bill.

    January 27, 2014 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    "They tipped their cards in how they reacted to the Boston incident."

    You're going to have to back further than this, Sniffit. I've never seen so much right wing "patriotism" washed down the drain these past 5 years as I have from the likes of McCain and others.

    Indeed. Their flag waving has all but stopped.

    January 27, 2014 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    -tom l

    @Sniffit,
    I honestly don't recall the repubs reaction to the Boston incident. What did they do that was wrong? And as one of those "Teatrollers" I would say that I would not be happy at all by any terrorist attack that would kill fellow Americans.
    *****************
    I do recall Rand Paul's outrage at the police dragnet that caught the perps: how did he propose we catch them, if not by shutting the city down? The la-la/oppositiona defiance land the GOP lives in at times is bewildering.

    January 27, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
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