The widow of a US Navy SEAL killed in Yemen stood in the balcony of the House chamber, tears streaming down her face as she looked upward and appeared to whisper to her husband.
Democrats and Republicans alike stood for minutes to applaud Carryn Owens, giving her the loudest cheers of the night in a rare moment of unity during President Donald Trump's first speech to a joint session of Congress.
Her husband, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens, was killed last month in a raid approved by Trump, a decision that has been sharply criticized by some - including the slain SEAL's father - and which Trump continued to defend Tuesday night.
Trump, near the end of his hour-long speech, paid tribute to Carryn Owens, a surprise guest whose presence in the first lady's box was not announced in advance by the White House.
“The challenges we face as a nation are great. But our people are even greater. And none are greater or braver than those who fight for America in uniform,” said Trump, who said they were “blessed” to be joined by Owens.
The president then turned to the balcony where Owens sat next to Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and said “Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero - battling against terrorism and securing our nation.”
The chamber roared with cheers as Owens stood and cried, creating what would likely become the signature moment of Trump's address.
But Owens' death, as well as the killing of several civilians, has raised questions about the effectiveness of the raid, and Trump took a moment to again litigate the decision.