White House releases full list of State of the Union guests

Story highlights

  • Edith Childs of Greenville, South Carolina, and Vietnam veteran Earl Smith of Austin, Texas, will both attend Tuesday's address
  • The White House will also leave one seat empty in the first lady's guest box at the State of the Union address to represent victims of gun violence

Washington (CNN)The White House on Sunday released the full list of guests who will be seated with first lady Michelle Obama at President Barack Obama's final State of the Union Tuesday, including a Syrian refugee and Paris train attack hero Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone.

Refaai Hamo, who received refugee status with his four children to move to Troy, Michigan, in December is among the first lady's guests. Hamo fled his home after a Syrian government anti-personnel missile killed seven of his family members, including his wife and one daughter, according to the White House.
    Obama has been vocal in his support for Syrian refugees, warning the nation -- as well as Republican presidential candidates -- in the wake of terrorist attacks around the world to not respond with "fear" towards refugees.
    Another guest, Stone, was one of five men who officials say stopped a gunman from attacking passengers on an Amsterdam-to-Paris train in August. He rushed the gunman and was slashed several times with a box cutter in the process, almost severing his thumb, officials said.
    Other notable guests include Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy -- a staunch supporter of gun control -- and Ryan Reyes, whose partner Larry "Daniel" Kaufman died in the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, in December.
    Guests that are seated in the first lady's box are traditionally cited as examples in the State of the Union address to highlight administration policies and achievements.
    In a nod to the early days of Obama's presidency, two notable supporters from his first White House campaign, Edith Childs of Greenville, South Carolina, and Vietnam veteran Earl Smith of Austin, Texas, will also attend the address.
    Childs became an icon to the Obama campaign in 2007 when she rallied a small group of 38 supporters in Greenwood County to chant, "Fired Up! Ready to Go!" drawing in more and more supporters as the cheer continued. The call-and-response chant became the unofficial slogan for the Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012.
    Smith met Obama in 2008 at a Hyatt Regency in Austin, where he worked as the director of security. While Smith was in an elevator with the then-senator, Smith gave Obama a patch he had worn while serving with an artillery brigade in Vietnam that sustained 10,041 casualties and received 13 Medals of Honor. Smith held onto the patch for 40 years before giving it to Obama, who then carried it in his pocket for the rest of the 2008 campaign.
    In a 2009 interview with CNN's John King before Obama's first inauguration, Childs spoke about the importance of attending the event.
    "I never thought that I would be able to see this day, so I just need to be there. Don't want to be nowhere near the front. I just want to be there," Childs said. "It means everything to me, because I want to be treated as a person. Not because I'm Edith Childs and black, but because I'm a person."
    Other guests include Cynthia Dias, a homeless veterans advocate, Cary Dixon, an opioid reform advocate and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
    The White House will also leave one seat empty in the first lady's guest box at the State of the Union address to represent victims of gun violence, Obama announced Friday.