On Thursday, President Obama surprised Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — during a surprise White House ceremony.
Biden, unaware he was receiving the medal, was told he was going to have a toast with senior staff, his wife and first lady Michelle Obama.
"For your faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country and for your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations, I'd like to ask the military aide join us on stage," Obama said. "For my final time as President, I am pleased to award our nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom."
Throughout the president’s touching speech, Biden fought back tears as he wore his humility and gratitude on his sleeve.
"To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully," Obama said.
Obama also joked about his veep’s disposition which included constant comedic jabs at his ability to quote Irish poets off the top of his head, his love of his hometown, Scranton, Pennsylvania, and his admiration for using Amtrak as a preferred means of transportation.
Further, Obama discussed how Biden and his family have become extended family and unofficial relatives to him, his wife and children.
As the emotional Biden was given the medal by the president, he expressed his appreciation for the award, pausing often to hold back his emotion.
"This honor is not only well beyond what I deserve, but it's a reflection of the generosity of your spirit," Biden told Obama. "I don't deserve this. But I know it came from the president's heart."
Biden also told an unknown story about how Obama saved his son from financial issues. The late Beau Biden faced the prospect of resigning as Delaware’s attorney general amid health concerns in 2015, and since his position in public office was his family’s only source of income, Joe and Jill Biden said they would sell their Wilmington, Delaware, home to help their son.
Once the president got wind of Beau’s financial troubles, Obama told Biden not to sell the home because he would help.
"He got up and he said, 'Don't sell that house. Promise me you won't sell the house,'" Biden said. “He said, 'I'll give you the money. Whatever you need, I'll give you the money. Don't, Joe — promise me. Promise me.' I said, 'I don't think we're going to have to anyway.' He said, 'Promise me’.”
Beau Biden died in 2015 after a battle with brain cancer.
"If you can't admire Joe Biden as a person you've got a problem," Obama said. "He's as good a man as God ever created."