The State of the Union address is a requirement of the U.S. Constitution. It is also a chance for the president to lay out policy initiatives.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama attempted to strike an optimistic tone about the nation's recovery from a recession and its future.
“Anyone who says that America is in decline or that our influence has waned doesn't know what they're talking about,” he said.
The president spoke for an hour and five minutes about “rebuilding the nation,” referring to energy policy, jobs, education funding, economic fairness and immigration reform, among other issues.
Specific ideas proposed included a veterans jobs corps, the end to subsidies for oil companies and income taxes of at least 30 percent for those who make more than $1 million a year.
President Obama recalled being told by a member of Seal Team Six – which killed Osama bin Laden – that he didn't deserve credit because everyone involved made the mission a success. The commander-in-chief owns a flag signed by the team members, who he said came from many different backgrounds and beliefs, yet came together to achieve their mission.
"So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I am reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes."
He finished the speech with the following words:
"No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team. This nation is great because we get each others' backs. And if we hold fast to that truth in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great, no mission too hard.
As long as we are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward and our future is hopeful and the state of our Union will always be strong."