Otto Warmbier's tearful parents receive standing ovation during State of the Union

President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address featured many special honorees, but one of the most poignant moments of the night involved the parents of deceased American student Otto Warmbier.

Warmbier, 22, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after being convicted of trying to steal a propaganda poster from his North Korean hotel in May 2016.

The University of Virginia student was imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months before being returned to the United States in a coma in June 2017. He died less than a week after he was sent back to his family.

His parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, were visibly emotional on Tuesday night after President Donald Trump denounced "the cruel dictatorship in North Korea" and pointed to the couple's experience as evidence of Kim Jong Un's brutality.

"You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all," Trump told the Warmbiers. "Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto's memory with American resolve."

The stirring comments brought the crowd to its feet and reduced the bereaved parents to tears. 

Photos from the moving moment: 

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Otto Warmbier's tearful parents receive standing ovation during State of the Union
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Otto Warmbier's tearful parents receive standing ovation during State of the Union
American student Otto Warmbier's parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier cry as U.S. President Donald Trump talks about the death of their son after his arrest in North Korea during the State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
American student Otto Warmbier's parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier cry as U.S. President Donald Trump talks about the death of their son after his arrest in North Korea during the State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
American student Otto Warmbier's parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier cry as U.S. President Donald Trump talks about the death of their son Otto after his arrest in North Korea during the State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
American student Otto Warmbier's parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier cry as U.S. President Donald Trump talks about the death of their son Otto after his arrest in North Korea during the State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
American student Otto Warmbier's parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier applaud as U.S. President Donald Trump talks about the death of their son Otto after his arrest in North Korea during the State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
American student Otto Warmbier's parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier cry as U.S. President Donald Trump talks about the death of their son after his arrest in North Korea during the State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
American student Otto Warmbier's parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier cry as U.S. President Donald Trump talks about the death of their son after his arrest in North Korea during the State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Parents of Otto Warmbier, Fred and Cindy Warmbier are acknowledged during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Cindy and Fred Warmbier react after being recognized by President Donald J. Trump during the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol on January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Parents of Otto Warmbier, Fred and Cindy Warmbier are acknowledged during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Parents of Otto Warmbier, Fred and Cindy Warmbier are acknowledged during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Parents of Otto Warmbier, Fred and Cindy Warmbier are acknowledged during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Fred and Cindy Warmbier are recognized during the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 30, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck sits with Fred and Cindy Warmbier during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Parents of Otto Warmbier, Fred and Cindy Warmbier are acknowledged during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 30: Fred and Cindy Warmbier, the parents Otto Warmbier, who was jailed in North Korea and subsequently died, are recognized during President Donald Trump's State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House chamber on January 30, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
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When Warmbier was released from prison in June 2017, North Korea told American officials that he'd contracted botulism and fell into a coma after taking a sleeping pill.

Medical officials in the U.S. said that Warmbier's scans showed extensive loss of brain tissue consistent with cardiac arrest that deprived the brain of oxygen. Contrary to what North Korean officials said, doctors could not find any evidence of botulism in his system.

According to accounts given by Warmbier's parents, his injuries appeared to be more consistent with torture.

"Otto had a shaved head, he had a feeding tube coming out of his nose, he was staring blankly into space, jerking violently," Fred Warmbier told Fox and Friends in a September 2017 interview. "He was blind. He was deaf. As we looked at him and tried to comfort him, it looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth."

The Warmbiers said at the time that although they originally hoped to stay out of the spotlight in order to grieve in private, they decided to speak out after North Korea denied it cruelly treated or tortured their son.

"Now we see North Korea claiming to be a victim, and that the world is picking on them," said Fred Warmbier. "We're here to tell you North Korea is not a victim, they’re terrorists, they kidnapped Otto, they tortured him, they intentionally injured him."

SEE: A timeline of Otto Warmbier's North Korean imprisonment: 

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Otto Warmbier: A timeline of the student's North Korea imprisonment
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Otto Warmbier: A timeline of the student's North Korea imprisonment

January 2016: Warmbier is imprisoned in North Korea, charged with stealing an item that had a state propaganda slogan on it.

March 2016: Warmbier is sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea

March 2016 - 2017: The United States advocates for North Korea's allowing Sweden access to Warmbier and three other American citizens, pushing for their release.

January 2017: President Trump is inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, signaling a seat change in American foreign diplomacy.

February 2017: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson briefs President Trump on the situation surrounding Warmbier's imprisonment in North Korea.Trump directs Tillerson to take all appropriate measures in securing the release of U.S. hostages in North Korea.

May 2017:  The U.S. State Department and North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs hold a meeting in Oslo, Norway, during which they agree to the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang's access to all four detainees. Sweden is later granted these visitation rights, prompting North Korea to request a meeting with the United States.

June 6, 2017 - State Department Special Representative Joseph Yun meets with North Korean ambassador Pak Gil Yon at the United Nations in New York. Yun learns during this meeting that Warmbier has been in a coma for over a year.

June 6-11, 2017: Secretary of State Tillerson instructs Yun to travel to North Korea with the mission of bringing back Warmbier. They travel with a medical team to Pyongyang.

June 12, 2017: Through Yun, the United States is able for the first time to confirm Warmbier's status. The U.S. demands Warmbier be released on humanitarian conditions. North Korea complies.

June 13, 2017: Warmbier is evacuated from North Korea, travels to Ohio where he will reunite with his family.

June 13, 2017: Otto Warmbier arrives home to Cincinnati, Ohio
June 15, 2017: Otto Warmbier's father, Fred, speaks out during a press conference on his son's return home.
June 15, 2017: Doctors give updates on Warmbier's status during a news conference at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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