The widow and parents of a staff sergeant from Coram mortally wounded in Afghanistan and a Syracuse junior from West Islip facing heavy college debt are among the Long Islanders attending President Barack Obama’s last State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Deborah Bonacasa and Diana and Vincent Bonacasa, the widow and parents of Staff Sgt. Louis Bonacasa, of Coram, who died in a suicide bombing near Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on Dec. 21, will be guests of Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley).
“I cannot think of a greater way to honor his sacrifice to our nation,” Zeldin said.
Sean McAllister will be taking a break from his studies at Syracuse University Tuesday to attend the address as a guest of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
McAllister, 20, who graduated from West Islip High School and is a junior studying finance, said despite his part-time jobs at a local deli during high school and now in construction he faces a future burdened by college loan debts of “tens of thousands of dollars.”
Schumer said in a statement he invited McAllister to the address “so we can begin to tackle this issue of student loan debt and college affordability.”
Members of Congress are allowed to invite guests to sit in the gallery for the annual address in the House chamber, and many lawmakers select them to make a political statement or to honor a constituent.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) invited John Feal, of Nesconset, to recognize his two dozen trips to Washington with first responders to lobby lawmakers to successfully pass an extension to the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act last year.
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) will host Bishop Lionel Harvey, pastor of First Baptist Cathedral of Westbury and president of the Unified New Cassel Community Revitalization Corporation.
And in an effort to counter anti-Muslim sentiment, Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) said she invited New York Police Lt. Adeel Rana, of Valley Stream, who is also president of the NYPD Muslim Officers Society.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) has invited a staff member and Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) will host a “personal guest.” Their offices declined to name them.