President Obama awards Biden the Medal of Freedom
President Obama awards Biden the Medal of Freedom President Barack Obama laughs with Vice President Joe Biden during a ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Obama presented Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Obama awards Biden the Medal of Freedom
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At the dusk of both of their political careers, surrounded by teary friends and family, President Barack Obama has bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Joe Biden, the man he called "the finest vice president we have ever seen."
The vice president winced in shock as Obama announced he was conferring the nation's highest civil honor on his right-hand-man for eight years. Biden turned away from the cameras, wiped away some tears, then stood stoically as Obama draped the blue-and-white ribbon around his neck.
"I just hope that the asterisk in history that is attached to my name when they talk about this presidency is that I can say I was part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things for this country," Biden said.
There were several standing ovations at what had been billed as a modest farewell ceremony Jan. 12 for Biden. But it evolved into a surprise bestowal of the Medal of Freedom, the last time Obama will present the honor.
"I had no idea," Biden said of the award, insisting he didn't deserve it.
It was the only time Obama has presented the medal "with distinction," also awarded only once by each of the previous three presidents.
One week out from the Obama administration's end, a deep sense of nostalgia set in at the White House as longtime staffers pack up their offices, send out their last emails and bid farewell to the president they've served.
Obama, joined by his wife and daughters, was effusive in his praise for Biden, who ran against him in 2008, then agreed to be his running mate. He said Biden had made him a better president, calling him "a lion of American history."
"To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard and to live life fully," Obama said.
The famously plainspoken Biden has long said he only agreed to the job after Obama agreed he would be the last person in the room before major decisions were made. Over two terms, they developed a bond that both men said transcended the office, with their wives, children and Biden's grandchildren becoming close friends.
They disagreed, too, on occasion, including when Biden advocated against the high-stakes raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Biden's tendency to veer off-script caused occasional headaches for the White House, such as when he unexpectedly announced support for gay marriage in advance of the 2012 re-election, forcing Obama to do the same soon after.
Yet as they gathered for a final goodbye, none of that seemed on either man's mind.
Obama said there had been "no turf wars between our staffs," a departure from other recent administrations. And Biden told the story of how after his son Beau Biden died in 2015, leaving behind a wife and children, Obama was distraught when Biden said he might sell his house to help support them, and offered to give them money instead.
It was a reunion for the many staffers and colleagues who worked with Biden over the years. Joining Biden's wife, sister and children in the State Dining Room were former Sens. Chris Dodd and Ted Kaufman, former chief of staff Bruce Reed, and even Biden's White House physician.
Obama traced the history of Biden's nearly half-century-long political career, from chairing the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees to the "cancer moonshot" effort to end cancer that he started recently and plans to continue. Obama praised his vice president for his work on the economic stimulus, middle-class issues and curbing violence against women.
Biden's career in Washington started in 1972 steeped in tragedy when his wife and infant daughter died in a car crash just before he was to be sworn in as U.S. senator. After exiting the national stage next week, he plans to stay active in Democratic politics and work on policy issues at a pair of institutes he's developing at the University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania.

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What did President Obama mean by calling Vice President Biden “a lion of American history?”
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • irisp-ste
    1/23/2017 - 09:13 a.m.

    I am not sure what Obama meant by calling Biden "a lion of American history" because the Vice President did not have any groundbreaking accomplishments that affected the nation, nor did he stand out greatly compared to other political officials. At the now past President and VP have a close relationship to speak such kind words of each other.

  • jareds-cel
    1/23/2017 - 09:54 a.m.

    Barrack Obama presented Joe Biden with the Medal of Freedom. Biden insisted several times that he didn't deserve it but he was so happy to be the right-hand-man of Obama for the past eight years. This is a really exciting honor for Biden.

  • peytonw-cel
    1/23/2017 - 10:04 a.m.

    During Obama's presidency Joe Biden was Obama's vice president and a friend to Obama. Biden was in charge of many things while being Vice President.Barrack Obama presented Joe Biden with the Medal of Freedom. Biden insisted several times that he didn't deserve it but he was so happy to be the right-hand-man of Obama for the past eight years. This is a really exciting honor for Biden.

  • collinh-pla
    1/23/2017 - 03:13 p.m.

    Joe Biden, former Vice-President of the United States, served under Obama for all eight years. Biden agreed to drop out of the 2008 Presidential race and support Obama only if he was the last person in the room for every important decision Obama made. This agreement led to a high level of camaraderie between the two political leaders that fostered a mutual friendship. Near the end of his presidency, Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction to Biden for being the best Vice-President ever seen in Obama's opinion. Biden has always been a stalwart champion of political and social rights. Notably, Biden went out and supported gay marriage before the 2012 re-election Obama bid, forcing the Obama administration to support gay marriage. Biden has also worked towards stopping violence against women, stimulating the economy, and working on middle class issues. Politics aside, Joe Biden has continually worked towards preserving freedom for all Americans. Biden has earned and deserves the Medal of Freedom, the highest civil honor attainable. With his post-White House life beginning last Friday, Biden plans to stay active in the Democratic Party and teach at UPenn and Deleware.

  • williamb-pla
    1/23/2017 - 03:58 p.m.

    The article describes the relationship between Barack Obama and Joe Biden throughout their years in the white house and also gives a little background into Biden's life and political career. Joe Biden was extremely involved in many forms of activism, including LGBTQ+ issues, making him a model citizen and well deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

  • cassidyk-pla
    1/23/2017 - 04:29 p.m.

    This article talks about the Presidential Medal of Freedom which the previous President, Barack Obama, awarded to his Vice-President Joe Biden. Biden insists he was shocked, but Obama believes he is well deserving. The article goes on to explain the synopsis of their time together in office and some of the challenges they faced through the past eight years. This connects to civil engagement because Joe Biden won "the nation's highest civil honor" through being engaged in our countries needs and addressing them accordingly. Only a person who was truly involved in making this country better deserves this title. Overall I think this article was very relevant and informative.

  • nicoler1-pla
    1/23/2017 - 06:23 p.m.

    On January 12th, 2017 president Barack Obama bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his vice president, Joe Biden. Biden was surprised and emotional as he accepted the medal from Obama, which is the 'nation's greatest civil honor'. The article goes on to describe details of Obama and Biden's administration together over eight years. Highlights include their out-of-the-office friendship and expert policy making. The Presidential Medal of Freedom was an immense honor for Biden, especially because of his close relationship to Obama. I liked this article because it did not only discuss the medal ceremony but also other important aspects of Obama and Biden's administration. I believe this article connects to civic engagement because it discusses politics and gives citizens the opportunity to experience the bestowing of the 'nation's greatest civil honor'. As a citizen it is important to understand the reasoning behind such major awards and recognize what they mean.

  • abigailh-pla
    1/24/2017 - 06:41 a.m.

    Obama and Biden became close friends after working together as President and Vice President for eight years. Obama honored Biden with the Medal of Freedom for his efforts to cure cancer, stop violence against women, and work on middle class issues and economic stimulus as well as many other notable accomplishments. Joe Biden is an excellent example for civic engagement as his involvement in politics and constant effort to improve the lives of Americans stand as an example for the rest of the country. He constantly put the people first, even when going through the personal hardship of family loss. Obama recognized his profound civic engagement by awarding him the Medal of Freedom.

  • brandond-pla
    1/24/2017 - 10:28 p.m.

    This article is about how Joe Biden received the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction. This is the only time President Obama has awarded the medal "with distinction" during his two terms as President. The event came as the Obama Administration was winding down its eight years of occupancy at the White and preparing for the inauguration of President Elect Trump. The article goes on to recap Biden's career of political service, mentioning how put much work into the economic stimulus, middle-class issues and curbing violence against women.

    As citizens of the United States, it is our civic duty to be active members in our Republic. The Presidential Medal of Freedom received by Biden is the culminating achievement that crowns a life of devoted service to our country. Some people, like former Vice President Biden, go above and beyond their responsibility as a citizen to make a lasting impact on the nation. The article states, "Biden only agreed to the job after Obama agreed he would be the last person in the room before major decisions were made", which shows how much of an active role he chose to take in our government. Where civic duty and engagement are concerned, Joe Biden should serve as a model for us all.

  • pilarj-cel
    1/25/2017 - 10:43 a.m.

    He described Vice President Biden as a courageous person in American history. Based off of things that he pushed forward, such as his support for gay marriage, he announced it regardless of how the people would react. Along with that, he suffered the death of his eldest son, Beau Biden, during his vice presidency. Regardless of the things that occurred, he fought through it.

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