NBC News and news services
updated 2/25/2009 12:55:59 AM ET 2009-02-25T05:55:59

First lady Michelle Obama invited a few students, a couple of governors, members of the military and several business leaders to join her for the president's speech Tuesday.

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The White House released the list of guests who sat with the first lady when Barack Obama addresses Congress. They included Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden; Republican Gov. Jim Douglas of Vermont, a supporter of the president's economic stimulus package, and Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio.

Among the guests were students from South Carolina and the Washington area, a police officer from Philadelphia and a firefighter from Virginia.

Also invited was Lilly Ledbetter, the subject of a discrimination case that led to one of the first laws for the new administration on fair pay.

The list of invited guests:

  • Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden.
  • Leonard Abess Jr., CEO of City National Bank of Florida. The Miami-based man sold a majority stake in Miami-based City National Bancshares last November and handed $60 million to his employees, including tellers, bookkeepers, and clerks.
  • Ty'Sheoma Bethea, an eighth-grader at J.V. Martin Junior High School in Dillon, S.C. She wrote Congress to ask for help for her school's crumbling facility after hearing the president speak about it during his Feb. 9 news conference. She will be joined by her mother, Dina Leach.
  • Elizabeth Carballo, a junior at Roosevelt Senior High School in Washington who plans to go to college and is interested in studying business.
  • Richard G. DeCoatsworth, a police officer from Philadelphia who was shot in the face while on the job in September 2007 but maintained his pursuit of the suspect, who was apprehended a short time later. He returned to the police force in June 2008 and has been honored for heroism.
  • Earl Devaney, who was named this week to oversee the $787 billion economic stimulus plan after helping expose lobbyists' corruption at the Interior Department as the inspector general for that agency.
  • Mayor Bob Dixson of Greensburg, Kan. Dixson leads a community that was devastated by a tornado in May 2008 and has been rebuilding as an energy-efficient "green town."
  • Image: Michelle Obama, Ty'Sheoma Bethea
    Kevin Lamarque  /  Reuters
    First lady Michelle Obama embraces Ty'Sheoma Bethea, a student from Dillon, S.C., as they stand in the gallery to watch President Barack Obama give his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.
    Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican who has backed Obama's stimulus plan and serves as vice chairman of the National Governors Association.
  • Mary Henley of Richmond, Va., a 78-year-old who is receiving Social Security benefits and working part-time cleaning buildings to help pay her basic living expenses.
  • Army specialist Jonathon N. James of Mountain View, Ark., who sustained injuries under fire in Afghanistan and stayed in the fight, including helping others who were wounded. He is recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
  • Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president.
  • Blake Jones, co-founder and president of Namaste Solar, an energy company based in Boulder, Colo.
  • Shannon Kendall of Georgetown, Texas, a marketing executive who has moved repeatedly in support of her husband's various military assignments.
  • Victoria Kirby, a senior at Howard University in Washington who serves as an undergraduate student member of the school's board of trustees.
  • Geneva Lawson, the safe-deposit custodian at City National Bank of Florida, and one of the employees who received the money distributed by Abess last year. She plans to save money and buy a new car with the bonus.
  • Lilly Ledbetter of Jacksonville, Ala., whose anti-discrimination fight against unfair pay practices for female workers led to a pay-equity bill that Obama signed into law last month, the first bill that he signed into law as president.
  • Retired Gen. Alfonso E. Lenhardt, chief executive officer of the nonprofit National Crime Prevention Council and former Sergeant at Arms of the U.S. Senate.
  • Roxanna Garcia Marcus, development manager of the Year Up in Washington, a training program that helps young, urban adults reach their potential.
  • Abbey Meacham of Forest, Va., who is a firefighter and paramedic for the Lynchburg Fire Department.
  • Akrem Muzemil, a sophomore at Benjamin Banneker High School in Washington, D.C. He plans to attend college and is interested in studying engineering.
  • Sgt. John E. Rice of the U.S. Marine Corps, who was injured when a landmine exploded during his service in Iraq in July 2008 and has received several personal decorations.
  • Juan Francisco Rodriguez, a sophomore at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington who plans to attend college and is interested in studying mechanics and engineering.
  • Phil Schiliro, the president's chief legislative liaison to Congress.
  • Alvaro Simmons, chief operating officer of Mary's Center in Washington, a maternal and child care facility that recently hosted Michelle Obama for a visit.
  • Gov. Ted Strickland, the Democratic governor of Ohio.

Ginsburg attends
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, recovering from recent surgery, also was among the Supreme Court justices attending the speech at the Capitol. She was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito.

A decade ago, the justices decided to stop considering the speech a mandatory appearance for all of them together. They said they felt awkward having to sit silently while others in the chamber were applauding proposals that they might have to rule on later. So they treated it as a voluntary function.

Since then, Stephen Breyer, a former Senate staffer, has been a stalwart in showing up. But this year's planned turnout, of six, is one of the largest in recent years.

And it's notable that Justice Ginsburg attended. This was her first attendance in 10 years at one of these presidential speeches and came just 19 days after she had surgery for pancreatic cancer.

© 2013 msnbc.com


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