WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump invited some previously unannounced guests to his State of the Union speech, choosing to honor World War II veterans and the second man to walk on the moon.
Three D-Day veterans, Pfc. Joseph Reilly, Staff Sgt. Irving Locker and Sgt. Herman Zeitchik, were seated together in the House chamber. They rose at Trump's mention of their service.
Trump spoke early in his address of the WWII veterans who participated in D-Day and recounted the "15,000 young American men" who "jumped from the sky and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea, to save our civilization from tyranny."
Later, Trump revisted the stories of the WWII veterans, highlighting Zeitchik's role in helping to liberate Dachau after storming the beach a Normandy on D-Day nearly a year prior.
Zeitchik, Trump said, was one of a group of American soldiers who rescued Holocaust survivor Joshua Kaufman from the concentration camp there. Kaufman and Zeitchik sat side-by-side during the address, Kaufman helping Zeitchik to rise as Trump recognized his service.
"When American soldiers set out beneath the dark skies over the English Channel in the early hours of D-Day, 1944, they were just young men of 18 and 19, hurtling on fragile landing craft toward the most momentous battle in the history of war," Trump said.
"They did not know if they would survive the hour. They did not know if they would grow old. But they knew that America had to prevail. Their cause was this nation, and generations yet unborn. Why did they do it? They did it for America -- they did it for us."
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was also among those seated in the House chamber for the president's speech.
"In 2019, we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew a quarter of a million miles through space to plant the American flag on the face of the moon. Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag: Buzz Aldrin," Trump said.
As Aldrin rose to applause by the crowd, Trump pledged to send "American astronauts" back to space on "American rockets" in 2019.
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