The mother of a Fort Bragg soldier who died in Afghanistan will attend today's State of the Union address as a guest of Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina.
Terry Marquez of Aberdeen will watch from the gallery as President Obama addresses the nation at 9 p.m. She is the mother of Sgt. Justin Marquez, a soldier with 3rd Special Forces Group who died Oct. 6 in Wardak province.
The 25-year-old Green Beret was killed by small-arms fire, officials said. He was one of two soldiers killed during a foot patrol in the province's Chak district.
According to Hagan's office, Terry Marquez was invited to the State of the Union address after expressing interest in December, when Hagan honored her son on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Marquez, a librarian with Moore County schools and a former Aberdeen town commissioner, said she is a "political nerd."
But the trip also will be a nostalgic one, she said. The last time she was at the House of Representatives, she was visiting Washington with her twin sons, Justin and Drew, nearly 15 years ago.
"I'm very, very excited to go," Marquez said.
Hagan's office said Justin Marquez was the "neighborhood guardian" who served as a big brother for many in the neighborhood where he grew up.
In a statement, Hagan said she was honored to have Terry Marquez as her guest and related meeting her and speaking about Justin Marquez last year.
"I wish I had the opportunity to know him myself. Sgt. Marquez's life was cut too short while serving our country, and as a senator from the most military-friendly state in the nation and a member of a proud military family myself, I feel it is important that we take every opportunity to remember both those who sacrificed their lives and their families, who serve as well, just maybe not in a uniform," Hagan said. "Our military families are among the most inspirational North Carolinians I meet, and I view it as my job to make sure they have the support they need."
Staff writer Drew Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.