WASHINGTON (AP) — In a joyful, bipartisan moment, lawmakers briefly interrupted the State of the Union to serenade a survivor of October’s Pittsburgh synagogue shooting with an impromptu version of “Happy Birthday.”
Judah Samet is also a Holocaust survivor and celebrated his 81st birthday Tuesday.
President Donald Trump saluted Samet during the State of the Union, saying Samet can still recall the moment nearly 75 years ago when he was put on a train after 10 months in a concentration camp. Suddenly the train screeched to a halt. A soldier appeared. Samet’s family braced for the worst, but then his father cried out with joy, “It’s the Americans.”
Lawmakers jumped to their feet and applauded as Trump told the story, and they spontaneously sang “Happy Birthday.” Samet smiled and shouted “thank you.”
Noting the singing lawmakers, Trump told Samet that members of Congress “wouldn’t do that for me.”
Samet immigrated to Israel after World War II and served in the Israeli Defense Forces before moving to the United States in the 1960s.
In October he escaped the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, in which 11 people were killed.
Democrats and Republicans also sang to President Ronald Reagan to honor his 74th birthday, once he finished his State of the Union address in 1985.