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The State of the Union Address: A Guide For Kids!

Posted by on January 20, 2015

Hi Kids,

The State of the Union speech is when the president visits congress and gives a BIG speech and it’s all over TV. Exciting, huh? It wasn’t always that way. A hundred years ago and earlier, presidents wrote down the speech and just turned it in like a homework assignment. But starting with Woodrow Wilson, they go to congress and give a BIG speech. That also happens to be when radio became popular. So because of radio, we get to listen to somebody read their homework. COOL!

When the president arrives, a man called the Deputy Sergeant at Arms announces it.  I’m not exactly sure what a Deputy Sergeant at Arms does, but I think he’s like an assistant vice principal at a middle school — he kicks butt when somebody gets out of line. When the president is ready, the Deputy Sergeant at Arms yells (See. He “yells”. That’s assistant vice principal stuff right there), “Mister Speaker, the President of the United States!” And then the place gets all kind of Wrestlemania crazy.

The president now walks up to the front of the room. High fives. Handshakes. Kissing. Yuch. Not to belabor a point, but some WWE entrance music would help here.

The speech begins and soon parts of the audience take turns clapping. Here are a few points to help you follow along.

1. When half the audience applauds: that half is getting ready to take some of your mom and dad’s money or freedom.

2. When the all the audience applauds: they are getting ready to take even more of your mom and dad’s money or freedom OR they are clapping for something along the lines of Mom and apple pie. (I ♥ Mom and apple pie, don’t you?)

3. When you hear the word “free”: it does not mean “free”.  When a presidents — any president — says free, it’s a magic word with a special magic meaning!

Free: when you say it
“I was hiking in the woods and came across a berry bush. I picked and ate some. Dee-lish! And they were free.”

Free: when a president says it
“That guy bought berries. My friend took his berries and gave some to me.  Dee-lish! And they were free.”

See the difference? I knew you would. In the second example the berries were bought by someone else, then stolen, and then the thief labeled them as free. Isn’t language fun?

4. When you hear numbers: if Bobby Peterson was caught taking cookies from your lunch bag and he said,  “Twenty-seven! Thirteen! FIFTY-FIVE PER CENT!!!”, you’d pretty much know he was doing that to distract you from the fact he took your cookies, right? Presidents and congress folk are even better at this than Bobby Peterson. They rule!

5. When the president asks an unknown person to stand up in the balcony: see #4, substituting the balcony person’s name for the numbers.

6. When you hear the words “pay their fair share”: that means the people who hired your mom and dad will have less money to pay your mom and dad because the government wants its “fair share”.  Sharing is awesome!

The next two points are just for President Obama, but every president has his own magic phrases!
7. When you hear “Common Core”:
When your mom and dad are helping you with your math homework and they use potty language, say to them, “Thank you, Common Core!”  Good times.

8. When you hear “Affordable Care Act”: see #7, substituting the “trying to pay bills” for for the helping you with your homework.

9. Why are two people sitting behind the president? Imagine a standing in front of every kid in your school with two kids behinds behind you. One of the kids is your little brother. The other kid either really, super, awesome likes you OR wants to beat you up after school. Could go either way. But here’s the nifty part: all three of you get take lunch money from other kids in school!

The speech will usually end with something like “God bless America”. That’s like when you spend all day goofing off then blame your big brother for the mess you made.

That’s all for now. Have fun.

Keep It Old School, Kiddos!



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