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Obama, Biden, and Pelosi at last year's State of the Union. Vice President Joe Biden (left) and House Speaker John Boehner (right) applaud President Obama's State of the Union address. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Images)

The State of the Union

President Obama speaks to Congress and the American people about how the nation is doing

By Zach Jones | January 25 , 2011
<br />Politicians usually sit only with their own political party.<br /><br />But for the first time in a long time, Senators and Representatives have agreed to sit with members of other political parties.<br /><br />(Evan Vucci / AP Images)

Politicians usually sit only with their own political party.

But for the first time in a long time, Senators and Representatives have agreed to sit with members of other political parties.

(Evan Vucci / AP Images)

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama spoke to the nation in an important speech called the State of the Union address.

The State of the Union is an annual (yearly) tradition. Every January, the President reports on how the country has changed in the past year. He also shares the goals the White House has set for the new year.

The address is televised across the country, but the speech takes place in the House of Representatives in the U.S. Capitol. The President delivers his address to each state's lawmakers—all members of Congress, Senators and Representatives—and members of the national government, including the Vice President and the Supreme Court Justices.

President Obama spoke a lot about the country's economy. Nearly 10 percent of working-age Americans do not have jobs right now. At the same time, necessities like food, electricity, and gas are getting more expensive.

The President's speech focused on how lawmakers can come together to help create more jobs in the U.S. One way the government can keep America's businesses strong, he said, is to encourage education and creativity in young people.

"We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time," The President said in his speech. "We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world."

MAKING POLITICS MORE POLITE

On Tuesday, many people talked more about where lawmakers sat than what the President said.

For years, members of Congress have only sat with people from their own political party—other Republicans or Democrats—during the State of the Union. Sometimes Senators and Representatives even boo the President while he's speaking if they disagree with him. That tradition changed on Tuesday.

Last week, Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, suggested that politicians from different parties sit together during this year's speech. He wanted U.S. politicians to show that the country's leaders can get along peacefully, even if only for the State of the Union.

Many people think America's political leaders have become too disrespectful. They worry that when political leaders act rude and childish, it becomes harder for everyone to work together to solve tough issues. But will the friendly spirit last?

"What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow," President Obama said in his speech.

KID REPORTER COVERAGE: Elena Hildebrandt interviewed politicians after President Obama's speech. Find out what Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley had to say about the future of polite politics in Congress.

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