A bullied sixth-grader from Wilmington, Delaware, who was invited to Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech, caught the Internet’s attention when he fell asleep partway through the lengthy address.
Joshua Trump, whose family said he was mocked and cursed at in school because he shares the same last name as President Donald Trump, was seated near First Lady Melania Trump for the annual address before Congress.
The White House invited Joshua as a face for its anti-bullying efforts, spearheaded by Melania, and in apparent reference to what the Trump administration has called vicious animosity against the president himself.
Critics say such statements are hypocritical posturing, given President Trump’s lengthy history of inflammatory and deeply personal comments about his opponents — on Twitter, in campaign debates, during campaign rallies.
While the president did not mention Joshua by name in his speech, as he did other guests, the boy still caught the spotlight once he was sleeping.
The “so cute” moment, according to one tweet, brought together detractors and supporters alike of Trump’s 82-minute evening address (reportedly the third-longest in history) which went well into the 10 o’clock hour.
“Joshua Trump is a Trump I can get behind,” one user wrote on Twitter.
The news outlet Splinter agreed, tweeting, “Goodnight, everyone. May you snooze as peacefully as Joshua Trump, the young man who became a legend tonight.”
Others were more succinct.
“Joshua Trump owns,” journalist and lawyer Luppe B. Luppen wrote.
Former Hillary campaign staffer Josh Weinberg said, “JOSHUA TRUMP RULES.”
In summary, according to one Twitter user, “Went from being bullied to a LEGEND in 24 hours!!!!! Joshua Trump…Yewww are one great kiddo!”
In an announcement about Joshua’s attendance at the State of the Union this week, the White House said, “Unfortunately, Joshua has been bullied in school due to his last name.”
“[Joshua] appreciates science, art, and history,” the announcement continued. “He also loves animals and hopes to pursue a related career in the future. His hero and best friend is his Uncle Cody, who serves in the United States Air Force.”
In December, Wilmington-area TV station WPVI reported that Joshua’s bullying began when Trump ran for president. He was even homeschooled for a year.
“They curse at him, they call him an idiot, they call him stupid,” his mother, Megan Trump, told WPVI.
She added: “He said he hates himself, and he hates his last name, and he feels sad all the time, and he doesn’t want to live feeling like that anymore, and as a parent that’s scary.”
Eventually, Joshua’s last name was changed to his father’s name, Berto, in the school’s system, according to WPVI.
Presidential guests at the State of the Union are a decades-long tradition, and they usually serve a symbolic — even political — purpose, either attending to receive thanks for their patriotic contributions or to underscore a policy position or argument of the president. Lawmakers in the audience, in turn, bring guests of their own.
President Ronald Reagan reportedly began the tradition of inviting guests and mentioning them by name during his speech in 1982, when he praised Congressional Budget Office staffer Lenny Skutnik for jumping into the Potomac River to save a woman after a plane crash.
Children are occasional invitees. In addition to Joshua and others, the president was joined by 10-year-old Grace Eline who was successfully treated for a brain tumor and who made a mark in her hospital community with her optimism and strength of spirit.