Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Three Oklahomans honored at Trump’s third State of the Union


Photo By Brooklyn Wayland

WASHINGTON– Three Oklahomans were honored at President Donald Trump’s third State of the Union address.

Trump introduced Kelli Hake and her son Gage as some of his special guests while U.S. Representative Kendra Horn (D-OK) announced before the speech that Jena Nelson, the 2020 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, as her guest. 

Among topics Trump discussed during the State of the Union were a flourising economy, trade and education. 

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared to steal the show again this year as she dramatically tore in half Trump’s speech at its conclusion.  A year ago, she gave Trump a clapback for his comments on rejecting the “politics of retribution.”

Despite boos and loud cheers of “four more years” Trump seemed to stay focused and on the script, moving forward to military affairs. 

The Hakes, of Stillwater, are the widow and son of Staff Sergeant Christopher Hake who was killed on March 28, 2008 by a roadside bomb in Iraq while serving his second tour. He was killed along with three Fort Stewart soldiers in his squad. 

The White House said it had  been confirmed the roadside bomb that killed Hake was supplied by Iranian terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani. 

Soleimani was killed in an airstrike by U.S. military at the direction of President Trump  last month

According to the defense department, the strike was focused on dissuading any future Iranian attacks. 

In a thread of tweets  by Trump, he said, Soleimani “was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people…” Later saying “… He should have been taken out many years ago.” 

In his third State of the Union on Tuesday, Trump addressed Kelli and Gage Hake directly, saying, “To Kelli and Gage: Chris will live in our hearts forever.”

When telling Christopher Hake’s story, Trump then quoted a letter he had written his one-year-old son, Gage, “I will be with you again,” he wrote to Gage. “I will teach you to ride your first bike, build your first sandbox, watch you play sports and see you have kids also. I love you son, take care of your mother. I am always with you. Dad.” 

Now 13-years-old, Gage Hake consoled his mother, Kelli Hake, as she cried while the president told their story and his plan to stop terrorism and protect American lives. 

“Our message to the terrorists is clear: You will never escape American justice,”Trump said. “If you attack our citizens, you forfeit your life! 

“The Iranian regime must abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, stop spreading terror, death, and destruction, and start working for the good of its own people,” Trump said. 

Both Kelli and Gage Hake stood and applauded as Trump spoke those words. 

Trump explained the important role education plays in our society.  

“The next step forward in building an inclusive society is making sure that every young American gets a great education and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream,” Trump said.   

Jena Nelson, teacher at Deer Creek Middle School, was among those seated in the chamber to hear the President’s address.

Throughout her term, representative Horn has fought for stronger education in Oklahoma.

Horn said this is why she chose teacher of the year, Jena Nelson, as her guest to the State of the Union address because it is important to show support for the people who help mold our great state. 

“I invited Jena Nelson to be my guest to the State of the Union because for the amount of time and effort and love and investment our teachers put into our students, it is important for us to do the same for them,” Horn said. 

As teacher of the year, Nelson’s passion is helping her students reach for not only their success, but also the success of Oklahoma. 

“Education is not a Democrat subject, it’s not a Republican subject, this is a subject that affects every single Oklahoman and there is not greater investment than investing in the children of Oklahoma because when we invest in them, we are going to rebuild our economy,” Nelson said. “Our public schools have over 700,000 students in them and every one of them needs that investment so they can be career ready and get ready to rebuild our economy.”  

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. 

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About the Contributors
Karalee Langford
is a Gaylord journalism student at the University of Oklahoma. She completed her associate’s degree in journalism at Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC). There, she began her journalism career as a writer for the OCCC student newspaper, the Pioneer. Eventually, she worked her way up to become editor of the Pioneer her senior year. While editor, her team won first place for the best newspaper at the Society of Professional Journalism awards for a 20-page issue called “The Female Experience.” After graduating from OCCC, KaraLee transferred to OU and spent three months in Washington D.C. writing and reporting for Oklahoma media outlets. While in D.C. she hosted a podcast about what happens behind the scenes of the Nations Capitol and how journalists develop stories. KaraLee enjoys the fast-paced life of a journalist and prefers writing and reporting in-depth and investigative stories.
Brooklyn Wayland
is a reporter currently attending the University of Oklahoma where she studies journalism and political science. She now is the creator, producer and co-host of the “Survive & Thrive” and “America’s Cross-Roads” podcast series. Most recently, she was a politics fellow at HuffPost. Previously, she worked as an intern for a regional newspaper, The Shawnee News Star. In the spring of 2020, she was awarded a fellowship in Washington D.C. with Gaylord News where she covered the hill, political campaigns, tribal affairs and regional reporting for Oklahoma. While in D.C., Brooklyn also co-hosted a podcast series about reporting behind the scenes of the Nation’s Capital. Also with Gaylord News, she had the opportunity to work on a project telling the personal stories of Native Americans and their exile to Indian Country.

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