BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
At 8 p.m. Tuesday night, President Donald Trump delivered his second State of the Union address at the House Chamber in Washington D.C., in what Sen. Marsha Blackburn called an “inspiring message and a hopeful vision for our country.”
During the address, Trump championed the nation’s progress in job creation, foreign threats and affairs, and legislative victories such as the passing of the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform package that reduces minimum sentences for nonviolent crimes in many cases, last December.
A special guest of Trump during the address was none other than Nashville’s own Matthew Charles. Charles was serving out a 35 year sentence for a nonviolent drug-related crime, and was the first person to be released from prison under the new First Step Act.
“In 1996 at the age of 30, Matthew was sentenced to 35 years for selling drugs and related offenses,” Trump said during the the address. “Over the next two decades, he completed more than 30 Bible studies, became a law clerk, and mentored many of his fellow inmates. Thank you Matthew – welcome home.”
Following the address, Blackburn praised the president’s speech, saying it was a call for unity for Republicans and Democrats to work together.
“[Trump] expressed confidence in our nation’s future and extended a hand to Democrats to work together, in unity, to produce results for all Americans,” Blackburn said in a statement. “As the president communicated in his speech, the state of our union is strong. Our nation is well-positioned to address our challenges in a way that meets the needs of the 21st century. I look forward to continuing to work with President Trump and with my colleagues of both parties to build on our success for the American people.”
Blackburn’s own special guest to the address was DJ Corcoran, a Knoxville Fire Captain whose son was killed in December during a motor accident when a noncitizen collided with his vehicle in South Knoxville.
“Bringing Knoxville Fire Chief D.J. Corcoran as my guest was a true honor,” Blackburn said in a statement. “He and his wife, Wendy, who attended with Congressman Tim Burchett, lost their 22 year old son, Pierce, in late December when he was killed by an illegal immigrant. The Corcorans are faith-filled Tennesseans who love their country, their family and their God. They have taken the tragic loss their family experienced and spread a message of hope that no American should have to experience the anguish of becoming an Angel Family. I am incredibly thankful they accepted our invitation to attend as our guests.”