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When President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union tonight, several people directly affected by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown will be honored guests.
Kaitlin Roig, a first grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School who barricaded the door of her classroom when she heard the shooting and saved the lives of her students, will be sitting in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box.
Roig, of Greenwich, huddled in a cramped bathroom with her 15 first-grade students on that Friday morning of December 14, trying to assure them that everything would be alright -- even though she didn't believe it herself.
She has taught first grade for six years at Sandy Hook Elementary and started a running club called Marathon Mondays for third and fourth grade students at the school.
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty's guest will be Natalie Hammond, a Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher who was injured during the shooting, according to the Monroe Patch.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s guest will be Carlos Soto, the brother of Vicki Soto.
Vicki Soto, who was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, has been hailed as a hero for protecting the lives of her first graders during the shooting.
“Having Carlos at the State of the Union will be a powerful reminder that the victims of gun violence are not statistics. And they are not even just the people who are physically wounded by a bullet. They are parents, siblings, families, co-workers and friends. The Sotos and the other Sandy Hook families have shown tremendous courage by speaking out when they are still grieving. Upholding the legacy of them and their loved ones is an honor we must all try and live up to.”
Carlos, his sisters Jillian and Carlee, and parents Carlos and Donna, have established the Vicki Soto Memorial Scholarship Fund to help fund scholarships for students entering the education field. The family lives in the Third Congressional District, where Carlos attends Stratford High School.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, will bring First Selectwoman Pat Llodra, a Republican and the Chief Executive Officer of Newtown.
“Pat Llodra has inspired the nation by her leadership, strength, and courage – bringing Newtown together in unspeakable grief and pain. Her courage has been true grace under pressure. She put her community on a path toward healing after a horrific tragedy. I am honored that she will be my guest Tuesday evening. Her great work will help ensure that Newtown is remembered not just as a place but as a promise to keep our loved ones safe,” Blumenthal said.
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy will bring Newtown Detectives Jason Frank, who has been with the Newtown Police Department for 17 years, and Dan McAnaspie, who has been with the Newtown Police Department for 10 years. They are two of several first responders who rushed to Sandy Hook Elementary School on the day of the tragedy.
“These detectives were just two of the first responders to arrive at Sandy Hook Elementary School on the morning of December 14th. As parents themselves, they put their own emotions aside about the horror of that day in order to do their jobs, and stayed at the scene until the following Tuesday. I can’t imagine the evil they saw when they ran into Sandy Hook Elementary that morning, but they’ve spent every day since helping their community come together to work through this tragedy. These men are heroes. We owe them our deepest gratitude, and it is an honor to have them with me to hear the President’s State of the Union Address,” Murphy said.
Congressman Jim Himes’ guest will be Curtrina Murphy, of Bridgeport, whose 3-year-old daughter was hit in the crossfire of a gun fight in Bridgeport last summer as they walked hand-in-hand down the street in the middle of the afternoon.
Murphy’s daughter has fully recovered from her gunshot wounds.
“It is time to act on legislation to reduce gun violence, and our constituents who have been victimized by gun violence deserve the chance to tell their stories,” Congressman Himes said. “I cannot imagine how I would feel or what I would do if one of my girls were hit by random gunfire. I’m proud and thankful that Kurtrina is willing to share her story so that, hopefully, other children will never have to experience what her daughter did.”
Congressman Himes and approximately two dozen of his colleagues are giving their one State of the Union ticket to someone affected by a gun tragedy.