WASHINGTON — Moore Fire Chief Gary Bird, whose department helped lead the recovery efforts after the devastating tornado in May, has been invited to sit with first lady Michelle Obama for Tuesday's State of the Union speech by President Barack Obama, the White House announced Monday.
Bird was chosen, the White House said, to represent “all of those who rallied together to help the community of Moore, Oklahoma — firefighters, police officers, teachers, neighbors — in its greatest time of need: the immediate aftermath of the EF5 tornado that hit Moore, killing 25 men, women and children and devastating a community of more than 1,000 homes and businesses.”
Bird has been the fire chief in Moore since June 2012. He was deputy fire chief for the city for about nine years.
Among the other guests announced for the first lady's box are two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing; Jason Collins, the professional basketball player who announced last year that he is gay; a 16-year-old inventor; and Washington, D.C.'s teacher of the year.
Bird will be the second consecutive Oklahoman to sit in the first lady's box. Last year, Susan Bumgarner, an early education expert at Wilson Arts Integration Elementary School in Oklahoma City, was among the Michelle Obama's guests.
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett was a guest in 2010 because of his work to fight obesity.