Joe Biden broke down in tears on Thursday as Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a surprise farewell ceremony.
The Vice President turned his back to a room full of press and officials to compose himself when it was announced he would receive the medal, the greatest civilian honor in America.
In a glowing tribute to the 74-year-old, President Obama described him as a ‘lion of American history’ and ‘the best Vice President America has ever had’.
Stunned, Vice President Biden took to the podium to admit he had been lured to the event under the belief he was attending a drinks reception.
He returned Obama’s gushing praise in an emotional speech where he revealed how the President offered to help his family financially as his late son Beau battled brain cancer.
After gathering reporters and each of their families, Obama launched into his speech lightheartedly, telling the room: ‘I just wanted to get some folks together to pay tribute to somebody who’s not only been by my side for the duration of this entire journey but somebody who has devoted his entire professional life to service to this country, the best Vice President America has ever had, Mr Joe Biden.’
‘This also gives the internet one last chance to talk about our bromance.’
The President went on to pay tribute to him as an ‘extraordinary man’ with an ‘extraordinary career’ in public service.
After a glowing speech, which reduced Biden to tears, he surprised him with the medal.
‘To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self regard, to live life fully.
‘As one of his long time friends told me, if you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person you’ve got a problem. He is as good a man as God ever created,’ said Obama as the 74-year-old wiped tears with a handkerchief.
‘Joe, for your faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country and for your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations, I’d like to ask the military aid to join us on stage and, for the final time as President, I am pleased to award our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.’
Stunned, Vice President Biden turned his back to the room to compose himself.
He was bowled over when the President revealed he was receiving the medal with distinction, becoming the only person in his term to have been given the honor.
‘I will bestow this medal with an additional level of veneration, ladies and gentlemen, of distinction, to my brother, Joseph R. Biden Jr.’
After receiving the medal, Vice President Biden stepped up to the podium slowly, to admit: ‘I had no inkling.
‘I thought we were coming over Michelle, for you and Jill, and for Barack and I to toast one another and say what an incredible journey it’s been.’
He went on to thank the Obamas for their friendship, telling the President emotionally as he left the podium: ‘I don’t deserve this’.
He also revealed how Obama stepped in to offer financial help when his son Beau, the late attorney general, was battling cancer and considering stepping down.
Beau and his other son Hunter discussed selling one of the family’s homes to pay for his brain cancer treatment.
Addressing the First Family, Vice President Biden lauded Michelle Obama as ‘the finest First Lady that has ever served in this office’.
To his daughters, Sasha and Malia, he said: ‘You are just incredible, you really are. That is not hyperbole’.
‘Mr President you have crept into our heart, you and your whole family, and you occupy it. Mr President, I am indebted to you. I am indebted to you, your family. You know as long as there’s breath in me, I’ll be there for you and your whole family and I know it is reciprocal.
‘Thank you all so very, very, very much.’ In his speech, Obama said that serving beside Biden ‘has been quite the ride.’
‘There has not been a single moment since that time that I have doubted the wisdom of that decision,’ the president said, thinking back on when he asked Biden to join his ticket. This is an extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service.
Biden, he said, has helped to protect women from violence, root out terrorists, reduce gun violence, make college more affordable and is working to cure cancer.
‘For the past eight years he could not be a more devoted or effective partner in the progress that we’ve made,’ Obama said.
‘He visited college after college and made friends with Lady Gaga for our “It’s on us campaign against campus sexual assault,’ Obama said to laughter. ‘And when the Pope visited, Joe was even kind enough to let me talk to the Holiness, as well.’
Looking back on his eight years in office, the outgoing President paid homage on Tuesday to his wife, his daughters and the American people. But he seemed to save a special place in his heart for his VP.
‘To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: you were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best,’ he said. ‘Not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother.’
In closing his comments to Biden, Obama said: ‘We love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our life.’
‘I LEANED ON BEAU’: BIDEN’S EMOTIONAL TRIBUTE TO HIS LATE SON AS HE REVEALS HOW OBAMA OFFERED TO GIVE THEM MONEY TO PAY FOR HIS CANCER TREATMENT
After receiving his medal on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden took to the podium to reciprocate Obama’s glowing tribute.
In a lengthy speech he recounted all the ways the President had helped him and how the pair had grown to become family while serving together in the White House.
Fighting back tears, Biden shunned glory for his public service, telling the room: ‘I’ve been given a lot of credit I didn’t deserve’.
He recalled ‘leaning’ on family members who helped him through his life and career. Among them was his late son Beau, he said, who died in 2015 after a painful battle with brain cancer.
He also spoke of the 1972 deaths of his first wife Neila and daughter Naomi, who were killed in a car crash in his first year in public service.
‘I’ve always had somebody to lean on, you know. I get a lot of credit I don’t deserve, to state the obvious. I’ve always had somebody to lean on. From back, that time in 1972, when the accident happened, I leaned on, and I mean this in a literal sense, I leaned on my sons Beau and Hunter.
‘I continue to lean on Hunter who continues to in a bizarre kind of way, raise me. I leaned on them. Mr President you observed early on that when either one of my boys walked in the room they’d walk up and say “Dad, what can I get you.”
“Dad what do you need”.’
While preparing for Vice Presidential debates, he told how Beau would remain to be ‘the last person in the room’ to coach him.
‘Beau would say “Look at me Dad. Look at me. Remember, remember home base, remember.”
When his son received his bleak diagnosis, he considered stepping down as attorney general. With no other income, Vice President Biden planned selling his own home but, he revealed, President Obama begged him not to.
‘I said he doesn’t have any other income but we’re alright because Hunt’s there and I can sell the house. We were having a private lunch like we do once a week and this man got up and came over, grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye and said “don’t you sell that house. You love that house.”
‘I said “it’s no big deal Mr President”. He said “I’ll give you the money. Promise me, promise me, you won’t sell that house”.
To his second wife, Jill, he said of their 1977 marriage: ‘Then Jill came along and, she saved our life. No man deserves one great love, let alone two but everybody knows here I am Jill’s husband.
‘Everybody knows that I love her more than she loves me, with good reason. She gave me the most precious gift, the love of my life, the life of my love, my daughter Ashley.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail –