By far the longest standing ovation in last night's State of the Union address belonged not to President Obama but to Army Ranger Cory Remsburg. In fact, Remsburg couldn't be blamed "if the ear-splitting, two-minute standing ovation he received ... brought back memories of the day a blast changed his life near Kandahar more than four years ago," writes Mark Thompson at Time. As Obama recounted, Remsburg was nearly killed in Afghanistan on his 10th deployment. After a roadside bombing, "his comrades found him in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain." Remsburg, now 30, spent three months in a coma, lost his vision in one eye, and continues grueling rehab daily back home in Phoenix under the care of his parents. (He enlisted at age 18, a year after his dad wouldn't give him permission to do so at 17.)
Obama spoke of meeting Remsburg before the accident—"sharp as a tack"—and twice since, which is pretty rare as these things go. "Men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy," said the president. When he finished, "the speech, and the evening, belonged to the Purple Heart recipient," writes Russell Berman at the Hill. Sure, it was a "political ploy" to some extent, writes John Cassidy at the New Yorker, "but it was also something bigger and more justifiable." Obama invoked public service and the idea that all of us can do better. "In a bitterly divided chamber, and a bitterly divided country, it was a fanciful vision to end the speech with," he writes. "For a moment, though, you got the sense that even the president's foes gathered before him couldn't have disagreed with his sentiments."