(CNN) – President Barack Obama issued a heartfelt farewell to vice president Joe Biden, and shocked him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with distinction, an extremely rare move.
Joe Biden said he thought he was simply going to toast staff-members at this White House event, but the vice president was taken completely by surprise, when his friend, and boss, stepped in to present him the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Obama said, “To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense. Service without self-regard and to live life fully. As one of his long-time friends in the Senate who happens to be a Republican said, ‘If you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person you’ve got a problem. He’s as good a man as God ever created.’ For your lifetime of service I’d like to ask the military aid to join us on stage. For the final time as president I am pleased to award our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”
The vice president could barely contain his tears. He told the president what the award, and Obama’s words, meant to him. Biden said, “This honor is not only well beyond what I deserve but 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. There’s a Tulmonic saying that says ‘what comes for the heart, enters the heart.’ Mr. President, you have creeped into our heart, you and your whole family, including mom, and you occupy it.”
It was a sentiment shared by the president, who responded, “This is the kind of family that built this country. That’s why my family’s so proud to call ourselves honorary Bidens.”
The president called Joe Biden “a lion of American history,” and said he’s nowhere close to being finished serving the country.