In every State of the Union address, a single member of the President's cabinet stays away from the Capitol to ensure the continuity of government if tragedy struck.  They are the "designated survivor."

So, where do these survivors go on their night away? Well that depends. We asked four former cabinet officials -- Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, Health and Human Service Secretary Donna Shalala, Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson and Interior Secretary Gale Norton -- what they did on their night away from the speech  and what it was like to be in position as the government’s sole survivor.

The "designated survivor" is a Cabinet member specifically kept away from the president's State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol. We spoke to four past "survivors." (Jeff Simon/The Washington Post)

Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly identified Gale Norton as the Energy Secretary.