President Barack Obama presented a surprised Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a a tribute at the White House on Thursday.
Obama spoke in honor of the vice president two days after he delivered his own farewell address to the nation. Biden was outwardly emotional as Obama honored his legacy in government in front of an audience of family and friends. Obama joked about Biden’s popularity on the internet, his love for Scranton, Penn.; Amtrak and aviator sunglasses.
When Obama invited a military aide to the stage and announced he would be giving Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Biden’s reaction made it clear he had no idea Obama was going to present him with the honor.
“The first and only time in my presidency, I will bestow this medal with an additional level of veneration, an honor my predecessors reserved for three others: Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan and Colonel Colin Powell,” Obama said as Biden wiped away tears. “I am pleased today to award this distinction to my brother, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.”
Biden, a devout Catholic, closed his eyes in disbelief upon hearing he was being bestowed an honor that had also been given to a pope.
“I had no idea,” Biden said as he took the podium to deliver remarks.
“This honor is not only well beyond what I deserve but it’s a reflection of the extent and generosity of your spirit. I don’t deserve this. But, I know it came from the president’s heart,” Biden said. “Mr. President you have creeped into our hearts. You and your whole family, including mom, and you occupy it.”