Syrian Refugee to Attend State of the Union


Time: 9:45 p.m. CEST

A Syrian refugee who arrived in Michigan after he lost seven family members in a missile strike will attend President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address, the Time publishes on Sunday. Refaii Hamo, 55, will be among the First Lady Michelle Obama’s guests after his story appeared on the Humans of New York blog in December, which included a support from President Barack Obama.

“As a husband and a father, I cannot even begin to imagine the loss you’ve endured,” Obama wrote on Facebook. “You and your family are an inspiration.” Hamo moved to Detroit on Dec. 18 with his three daughters and one son. “Welcome to your new home,” the president added. “You’re part of what makes America great.”

Hamo left Syria, where he worked construction at night to pay for college, after a bomb tore through his home, killing his wife and one daughter. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in Turkey, where he fled to but couldn’t afford medical treatment.

“I was thrilled when I heard that President Barack Obama is welcoming us into the United States,” Hamo said in a statement to USA Today.

The Obama’s guests would include Air Force Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone, who helped thwart a potential terror attack aboard on a Paris-bound train in August, and 12-year-old Braeden Mannering, who makes sack lunches for the homeless. One seat will remain vacant. It will be for victims of gun violence, “who no longer have a voice,” the Time publishes.

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