WASHINGTON — For Los Angeles police Detective Ron Capra, attending Tuesday’s State of the Union speech by President Barack Obama was like participating in a historic event instead of preparing it for others.
Capra, 55, a Ventura County guest of Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, is a bomb squad technician who does safety sweeps for major events such as the recent Grammy Awards and upcoming Academy Awards.
“On all the big, major events I’ve ever been a part of, I’m usually working on the security side of it, always prepping it for security issues — never actually being a part of the actual event, not being on the interior,” he said.
Capra was invited to the annual address, at which presidents lay out an agenda and assess progress of the recent past, after Brownley’s office intervened with the Veterans Affairs department on behalf of his son, Mario, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. She helped him get a medical claim reopened.
Capra acknowledged that the president’s references to wounded Army Ranger Cory Remsburg that drew a long standing ovation brought tears to his eyes.
Brownley said they did for her, too.
“I felt like I was part of that speech,” said Capra, who met up with Brownley in her Longworth House Office Building suite after the speech. “That’s why I’m here today.
“Obviously, being a part of the State of the Union is incredible in itself, but to see all the important individuals that are involved in the whole process — the Supreme Court justices and everybody else — and being part of it was incredible.”
While attending the speech, Capra met the police chief of Waterford, Mass., who responded to the Boston Marathon bombing and who sat near him. There also was a relative of the police officer shot and killed after of that attack. Seated next to him was a soldier who lost both legs in Afghanistan.
“For me, it’s fulfilling as I enter my last two years in my field, as I get close to retirement, to be a part of this,” the 28-year Police Department veteran said. He added that while “military campaigns” should be reduced, the country should stay on alert for domestic threats and keep police departments prepared.
No stranger to the nation’s capital, where he worked with Department of Homeland Security officials after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Capra spent Tuesday afternoon at the Library of Congress. He also toured the Capitol, traded stories with Capitol Police and attended receptions with Brownley hosted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland.
Brownley said she was pleased to invite Capra and pleased the president devoted so much of the address to veterans issues, including the economic issues many face.
She endorsed Obama’s call for raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment insurance. Like many Democrats on Tuesday, she wore a lapel ribbon signifying that stand.
“It’s inexcusable, really, for Congress at this particular point in time to turn their backs on so many Americans who are trying very hard to find jobs,” she said.
“I think when our veterans succeed, America succeeds, too.”