President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address brought about a major change: the first such address in eight years with a new first family at the helm. Of course, there are some obvious routines that don't change just because former President Barack Obama is no longer the one delivering the speech — the president stands at the podium, the first lady sits in her gallery box, etc. Still, photos of the Trumps and Obamas at their respective State of the Union speeches show just how different the two first families are.
Take one simple example. During his numerous State of the Union speeches, former President Obama wasn't accompanied to the House of Representatives chamber — the site of his address — by his children. Malia and Sasha Obama didn't attend the speeches, just former First Lady Michelle Obama.
The difference there is obvious. While the Obama kids were away from Capitol Hill during the speeches, presumably getting ready for the next school day, Trump mostly has adult children, three of whom are married.
That fact is not only a contrast between the Trump family and the Obamas, but also between the current president and the two first families that came before the Obamas as well.
Former President George W. Bush's twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna Bush, were in college when he delivered his first State of the Union address. Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's daughter, Chelsea Clinton, was still a teenager at President Clinton's first address. (Although that doesn't mean they missed every State of the Union their fathers gave.) Malia Obama did, however, attend her dad's farewell speech in 2017 — but that wasn't a State of the Union.
In other words, for the past two decades, we've gotten used to presidents having young (and absent) children during their first State of the Union speeches. President Trump is the first president since George H.W. Bush to have children that are married at the time of his first State of the Union address, hence the many photos of former First Lady Obama standing without another first family member by her side.
Another difference between the Trumps and the Obamas? President Trump's children have been involved in his politics. Sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. frequently campaigned with their father before the 2016 presidential election, as did Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The latter two are the only ones who have stayed with the president during the transition from life in New York City to life in Washington D.C. at the White House. Both Ivanka and Jared now serve in the West Wing as advisers to the president, which gave them even more reason to be present on Tuesday night.
The 11-year-old Barron Trump, however, was not in attendance.
Like former First Lady Obama, and other first ladies before her, Melania Trump was joined in her box by over 20 guests of herself and the president.
Among the guests were emergency responders, parents who had lost children to suspected gang violence, and military service members. Among those service members is Matthew Bradford, a retired corporal who lost both his legs and was left blind after stepping on an explosive device in 2007 in Iraq. Even after suffering those injuries, Bradford reenlisted in the Marine Corps.
Similarly, Michelle Obama was usually surrounded by distinguished service members during State of the Union speeches.
The case is likely to the be the same for the next first lady, too, no matter how different her family is from this current administration's or those before it. Some things just don't change, no matter how different the world may seem.