President Barack Obama surprised his longtime Vice President and personal friend Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday. The award, presented at a White House ceremony, is the nation’s highest civilian honor.
In a heartfelt speech, Obama described Biden as both “the best VP America has ever had” and “as good a man as God ever created.” Obama gushed about the former Delaware Senator, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 before joining forces with the man who defeated him.
“To know Joe Biden is to know that love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully,” Obama said. “I’m proud to award the presidential medal of distinction to my brother.”
Obama was met with “awws” as he announced the presentation. A noticeably emotional Biden fought back tears throughout the presentation.
"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 aide to join us on stage," Obama said. "For my final time as President, I am pleased to award our nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom."
"This honor is not only well beyond what I deserve, but it's a reflection of the extent and generosity of your spirit," Biden said. "I don't deserve this but I know it came from the President's heart."
Obama also praised Biden’s family.
"This is the kind of family that built this country," Obama said. "That's why my family is honored to call ourselves honorary Bidens."
You can see a full video of the presentation and a transcript of Obama and Biden’s comments here, on NPR.
Biden and Obama will officially leave office next Friday, with president-elect Donald Trump being inaugurated that same day. As you might suspect, Biden will stay on brand with his means of transportation back home.
Jan 20, Jill and I will head home to Delaware the same way I have for 44 years: by train. Serving this country has been our greatest honor. pic.twitter.com/D0g2rEvE9R— Vice President Biden (@VP) January 10, 2017