President Obama remembered Beau Biden as “a man of good character” on Saturday, eulogizing Vice President Joe Biden’s son a week after his death of brain cancer at age 46.
During his heartfelt eulogy, Obama drew from an Irish poet and said Biden was “an original. He was a good man. A man of good character. A man who loved deeply and was loved in return.”
“We are here to grieve with you, but more importantly we are here because we love you,” Obama said to the Biden family.
Throughout his eulogy, Obama was visibly moved—at times holding back tears and pausing to wipe his face. “Joe 2.0,” Obama called him—an “upgraded” version of his father. Tragedy informed the lives of both father and son: A car crash killed Joe Biden’s daughter and first wife. But tragedy made Beau Biden more compassionate and caring, Obama said, a trait he learned from his father. Biden, Obama said, lived “a life of meaning.”
“From his dad he learned to get back up when he was down,” Obama said. “He learned that he was no higher than anybody else. He learned to make all of us feel like we mattered.”
In Washington, the American flag over the White House flew at half-staff. In Delaware, a thousand people gathered to pay their final respects to the family of Beau Biden, including state and local lawmakers, members of Congress, and members of the President’s cabinet. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were among those in attendance, the White House said.
Saturday’s funeral mass at St. Anthony of Padua Church was the last of three public events held in memory of Beau, a former Delaware Attorney General who had been a leading candidate for governor of the state. More than a thousand people traveled to Delaware’s Legislative Hall for a Thursday memorial service. There, Vice President Biden accepted the Conspicuous Service Cross, which was posthumously presented to Beau for his nearly 12 years of service in the Delaware National Guard.
People came in droves to mourn with the Biden family during a wake on Friday at the St. Anthony of Padua Church. Vice President Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, Biden’s son Hunter and several members of the family stayed—from 1p.m. until about 11p.m.—to greet every mourner that came to pay their respects.
Obama said the outpouring of support the Biden family has received over the past week is a testament to Beau’s legacy as someone who cared about others and sought to make the world a better place.
“The world noticed,” Obama said. “They felt it, his presence. Beau lives on in the lives of others. Isn’t that the whole point of our time? To make this world that we love more fair and more just? Isn’t that what this amazing journey we’ve been on is all about-to make things better for the next generation?”
“What an inheritance Beau left us. What an example he set,” Obama said. “What a good man. What an original.”