President Obama presented Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in an emotional ceremony at the White House on Thursday.
Biden, who was elected to the U.S. Senate at age 29 and served until the start of the Obama Administration, wiped away tears and shared a laugh with Obama.
“This is an extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service,” said Obama, who called Biden “a brother” in his farewell address earlier this week.
“Behind the scenes Joe’s candid honest counsel has made me a better president and a better commander in chief,” Obama said Thursday.
After the President’s address, during which he called Biden the “best Vice President America has ever had,” a watery-eyed Joe took the podium. The Vice President said he had “no inkling” he would be presented with the award.
“You got right the part about my leaning on Jill, but I’ve also leaned on you and a lot of people in this room,” Biden said. “I get a lot of credit I don’t deserve, to state the obvious. I’ve always had someone to lean on.”
Of the president, Biden said, “this is a remarkable man.”
“This honor is not only well beyond what I deserve but it is 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.”
Both the President’s and the Vice President’s speeches were filled with lighthearted moments and actual emotion.
Aside from presenting the president with an opportunity to honor his veep, Obama joked that the event also “gives the internet one last chance to talk about our bromance.”