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Secretary of Veterans' Affairs-designate David Shulkin testifies during a Senate Veterans' Affairs confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Feb. 1, 2017
Zach Gibson—AFP/Getty Images

If there’s an attack on the Capitol during President Donald Trump‘s address to Congress, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin would become president.

Shulkin, who also served as VA secretary under the Obama Administration, is the evening’s “designated survivor.” The tradition of choosing a designated survivor, someone who is held offsite in a secret location in the event of a tragedy, originated during the Cold War, when there was fear about a nuclear attack killing the nation’s leaders.

It took on serious significance again following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

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