Suu Kyi has already stopped in New York, Louisville, Ky., and Washington, D.C., where she met with President Barack Obama and received the Congressional Gold Medal. Thein Sein separately is visiting New York this week to attend the U.N. General Assembly, making him the first Myanmar(Burma) leader to visit the US in more than 40 years.
Hundreds of supporters lined up outside the arena hours before Suu Kyi was due to speak. As the doors opened at 7:30 a.m., supporters flooded inside to claim the best seats.
"People had so much going on in their minds: joy, happiness, everything. They just came together as a joy. Everybody was tearing up," said May Ayaroo, a 27-year-old engineer at defense company BAE Systems in Fort Wayne.
Factory worker Kaung Shein, 42, said he had been among the approximately 1 million students who took part in a failed pro-democracy uprising to protest Burma's military-backed regime in August 1988. Oxford-educated Suu Kyi rose to prominence during that period.
"We are from the 88 Generation," Kaung Shein said. "We align with her. ... We are very excited to be here. We've been waiting for 20 years."
Thousands of the 1988 protesters were killed and tens of thousands more — including Suu Kyi — spent years as political prisoners. Her National League for Democracy party was subsequently stymied by the junta's iron grip on the country. But Suu Kyi voiced cautious hope.