Local woman sees dream come true by attending State of the Union

Published 2:01 pm Thursday, February 1, 2018

Having watched the State of the Union address every year since she was 6, Decatur County resident Marlis Fewell decided she would finally try to attend one.

Her dream came true Tuesday night in Washington D.C.

Fewell spoke to some of Congressman Sanford Bishop’s representatives in late 2017, expressing interest in attending President Donald Trump’s first address. After a few conversations, she was told to wait and see.

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In January, Fewell received a call while taking her kids, Gavin and Sadie, to the dentist. It was Bishop, telling her she could have his one constituent ticket.

“I just fell out right there,” Fewell said. “I just started melting like I was given an award or something.”

Bishop told her she’d have one of the best seats in the house, right near first Lady Melania Trump.

“It just kept getting better,” Fewell said with a laugh.

She left for D.C. with her cousin and checked in to the Trump International hotel, where she saw as many celebrities and politicians as in the House Chamber itself: former press secretary Sean Spicer, internet personalities Diamond and Silk and many others.

Fewell had seen Trump a couple times before at rallies, and even shaken his hand and gotten an autograph. But this time was special.

“When he speaks, there is something electrifying about the room,” Fewell said. “You can relate to what he is saying. I find his appeal to be his ability to relate to everyone.”

Fewell even made it on television when North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho held up his crutches triumphantly in defiance of the regime he used to live under. Sitting a row behind him to his right is Fewell, wearing a radiant red shirt. People around town have started calling her “the lady in red.” Photos of the moment have run in The New York Times, CNN, CSPAN and Fox News.

Fewell made friends with the others sitting around her, and since she wasn’t able to bring a phone into the House Chamber, she made friendly conversation. Once the State of the Union ended a little after 10 p.m., it took an hour and half just for her to leave the building due to security measures.

It was in those moments she realized there were deeper lines that run through Washington than Democrat or Republican.

“The things you see on TV, there is a deeper reality to it when you talk to people,” Fewell said.

It’s an experience she’ll never forget, and one she is grateful toward Bishop for getting.

“Just experiencing history with (Trump’s) first State of the Union,” Fewell said. “We all said that our heads and hearts were so full of patriotism, we could have floated.”