President Barack Obama surprised Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday, January 12, by presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
During the White House tribute, Biden appeared visibly emotional, wiping away tears as Obama praised him and his family.
Watch the touching moment Biden found out he was receiving the honor in the clip below:
While calling Biden his “brother” and a “lion of American history,” Obama added: “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 colleagues in the senate who happened to be a Republican once said, ‘If you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person, you have got a problem.’ He is as good a man as god ever created.”
“For the final time as president, I am pleased to award our nation’s highest civilian honor, the presidential medal of freedom,” Obama said, as a shocked Biden turned away from the crowd momentarily while wiping away tears.
Obama concluded that he chose to add an additional level of veneration to the medal for the first time in his presidency. The past three recipients of the medal with distinction include Pope John Paul II, former President Ronald Reagan and General Colin Powell.
Biden is only the second sitting vice president to receive the award. President Gerald Ford last gave his vice president, Nelson A. Rockefeller, the award in 1977.