President Trump planned a number of powerful moments to punctuate his message throughout the State of the Union address Tuesday night, and even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s feud with the president couldn’t fully sour the evening.
Pelosi, who led the impeachment effort against Trump, refused to introduce the president as “a high honor and distinct privilege” as is the custom for the Speaker of the House. And Trump appeared to decline to shake her hand when she offered it, although there’s widespread debate on social media about whether he actually saw her gesture. But one stunning move was unmistakable. To cap off the evening, Pelosi tore up the pages of his speech right behind him, repeatedly shredding the pages right after he finished.
While that display of animosity was certainly stunning for its negativity, there were more than five moments that were equally uplifting, offered by the president. Here they are (full context below video):
1. Confronting Socialism
Standing in direct defiance of the socialist debacle in Venezuela, President Trump surprised most observers by introducing “the true and legitimate President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó” who was sitting in the House gallery. Guaidó is the opposition leader who has been selected by Venezuelan lawmakers to become president of the country, but dictator Nicolás Maduro still clings to power through violent force.
“Mr. President, please take this message back to your homeland. All Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom!” Trump said. “Socialism destroys nations. But always remember, freedom unifies the soul.”
2. Taking a Pro-Life Stand
In a powerful pro-life moment, the president introduced a little girl who had survived even though her mom gave birth only 20 weeks into her pregnancy – a stage at which some babies are still aborted because pro-choice advocates say they’re not viable. Trump said little 2-year-old Ellie Schneider, born as a micro-preemie, is proof that all life should be cherished and late-term abortion should be ended.
“Ellie reminds us that every child is a miracle of life,” Trump said. “Whether we are Republican, Democrat, or Independent, surely we must all agree that every human life is a sacred gift from God!”
3. Reuniting a Military Family
Trump honored military families in several ways throughout the night. He applauded Brigadier General Charles McGee, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen — the first black fighter pilots who fought against Nazi Germany in World War II.
He also honored the courage of a wife and son of a service member who was killed by a roadside bomb, explaining that it was for families like theirs that he took action to eliminate Iran’s architect of terror in Iraq.
But the happiest moment came when he later introduced another military wife and her two young children, and in a sudden twist, he announced that their husband and daddy Sergeant First Class Townsend Williams had just returned from the front in Afghanistan, reuniting the family right then and there inside the Capitol.
Tuskegee airman tribute:
4. Honoring an American Victim of ISIS
The president also introduced Carl and Marsha Mueller whose daughter Kayla, 26, was captured, tortured, and killed by ISIS terrorist leader Al-Baghdadi himself. Trump announced that the mission to end Al-Baghdadi’s life was given a code name – “Task Force 8-14.” It was a reference to a special day: August 14th – Kayla’s birthday. Carl Mueller held up a large photo of Kayla for the world to remember her as the entire room stood to applaud.
5. A Last-Minute Medal of Freedom
Finally, in another touching moment, Trump introduced a last-minute guest, conservative lion Rush Limbaugh who just announced this week that he has stage 4 lung cancer. Not only did Trump honor him by inviting him to the State of the Union, but he also bestowed an impromptu Presidential Medal of Freedom on Limbaugh, and First Lady Melania Trump presented it to him right on the spot. Democrats did not stand to applaud, despite Limbaugh’s dire diagnosis.
There were certainly other powerful moments from the evening, like when the president honored a little girl he had invited, announcing a scholarship for her to attend whatever school she wanted so she wouldn’t be trapped in a failing government school.
Trump maintained a tone of optimism throughout much of his address, concluding, “Our spirit is still young; the sun is still rising; God’s grace is still shining; and my fellow Americans, the best is yet to come!”