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Alan Gross, the government subcontractor who recently returned to the United States after spending five years imprisoned in Cuba, will be a guest of first lady Michelle Obama at Tuesday's State of the Union speech, the White House said Monday.

Gross will be joined by his wife, Judy, in the first lady's box for the president's annual address to Congress. Judy Gross advocated for her husband's release during his lengthy imprisonment.

Gross's release on December 17 came as the Obama administration announced a new initiative to normalize relations with the communist island.

Other guests of Mrs. Obama Tuesday will include Malik Bryant, a 13 year-old boy from Chicago who asked only to "be safe" in a Christmas letter to Santa; Staff Sergeant Jason Gibson, a Wounded Warrior who lost both legs in Afghanistan; American astronaut Scott Kelly; and Larry J. Merlo, the president of CVS Health, which recently eliminated tobacco sales in its stores.

— Carrie Dann