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. Obama called him "the finest vice president we have ever seen."
 
Biden winced in shock as Obama announced he was presenting the nation's highest civil honor on his right-hand-man for eight years. Biden turned away from the cameras. He wiped away some tears. Then he stood stoically. Obama draped the blue-and-white ribbon around his neck.
 
"I can say I was part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things for this country," Biden said of the president.
 
There were several standing ovations Jan. 12 at what had been billed as a modest farewell ceremony for Biden. But it evolved into a surprise. That surprise was the bestowal of the Medal of Freedom. It was the last time Obama will present the honor.
 
"I had no idea," Biden said of the award. He insisted he didn't deserve it.
 
It was the only time Obama has presented the medal "with distinction." It was awarded only once by each of the previous three presidents.
 
Obama was joined by his wife and daughters. He was effusive in his praise for Biden, who ran against him in 2008. Then Biden agreed to be his running mate. Obama said Biden had made him a better president. He called Biden "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 went beyond the office. Their wives, children and Biden's grandchildren became close friends.
 
They disagreed, too, on occasion. Once was 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. Once was when he unexpectedly announced support for gay marriage in advance of the 2012 re-election. That forced 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." That was 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. The president offered to give them money instead.
 
Obama traced the history of Biden's nearly half-century-long political career. Biden chaired the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees. Recently he started the "cancer moonshot" effort. Biden plans to continue that, to find a cure for cancer. 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. It began in tragedy. That is when his wife and infant daughter died in a car crash just before he was to be sworn in as U.S. senator. 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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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What did President Obama mean by calling Vice President Biden “a lion of American history?”
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (43)
  • samanthas-1-ste
    1/19/2017 - 12:58 p.m.

    The called Biden that because he was a major help to him. I actually really liked Biden and thought he was a nice, funny guy.

  • jacklynt-ste
    1/19/2017 - 02:13 p.m.

    I think this is cool. I think that awarding Biden with the medal of freedom is appropriate. I think that it is sad about his loss before he became a senator.

  • zachb4-har
    1/19/2017 - 02:40 p.m.

    Obama called Biden a lion of American History because he was a hero and Obama’s right hand man.

  • mtaylor-dav
    1/19/2017 - 04:41 p.m.

    This article is about Obama giving Biden the medal of Freedom. Biden was a Vice President with Obama for eight years. In the article it talks about how Biden had helped the White House so much and President Obama make decisions for the country. "Over two terms, they developed a bond that both men said went beyond the office." This quote shows that Biden and Obama became really good friends and helped each other in and out of work. The article also talks about both families being really good friends. Biden was very surprised to receive this award. "I had no idea, Biden said of the award. He insisted he didn't deserve it."

  • tgracie-dav
    1/19/2017 - 05:15 p.m.

    In response to "President Obama awards Biden the Medal of Freedom," I agree that President Obama should have given Biden the Medal of Freedom. One reason I agree is that he help lots of people and the president. Another reason is that he plans to help find a cure to cancer. A third reason is he wants to help with economic stimulus, middle-class issues and curbing violence against women. Even though people may not like Biden, I think he did a lot for our country and helped save jobs.

  • mchristian-dav
    1/19/2017 - 05:47 p.m.

    I was taught by the, "President Obama awards Biden the Medal of Freedom", article that friendship is more important than any/every medal. ""To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard and to live life fully", said Obama." This statement helps to prove that friendship should be valued/cherished for friendship is like a shooting star, it shines really bright, but is gone in an instant.

  • htaylor-dav
    1/19/2017 - 08:13 p.m.

    This article is an example of kindness and reminds everyone that just a simple act of kindness can change everything. Biden has been the greatest vice president ever. He deserves this award, he earned it because he helped the world for the better. Obama meant when he said, "a lion of American history," that he made history by helping out with cancer treatments, giving up so much and dealing with the losses of his family, and more. Biden was the one who didn't have to do all of this work to help, he choose to help out because he is a kind man who deserves this amazing Medal of Freedom. Obama and his family had a special bond while they were in the White House.

  • jcharles-dav
    1/19/2017 - 09:08 p.m.

    I personally do not agree with Obama giving Biden this award. It just angers me that he has denied so many veterans the medal of honor but he would give this one out to a man who a lot do not like. I mean i see that he stood with him for eight years but still. Some of these veterans have lost limbs and even their lives and will be denied the medal but he gets one. I think that if you are gonna give Biden a medal you must consider the veterans they deserve one too.

  • loganm1-dav
    1/19/2017 - 09:35 p.m.

    In response to Obama Gives medal of honor to Joe Biden I think it's cool that someone who has worked hard for our government gets medal of freedom. The medal of freedom is a very prestigious medal in our country and I think he really deserves it. In Obama's last days he is doing what he can to smoothly turn over the presidency to Trump. Joe Biden has been a really good vice president and I think he deserves this medal.

  • jamariw-orv
    1/20/2017 - 10:48 a.m.

    i like seeing our old president doing this as i look at how everyone is bashing our new president. I think Biden deserves it.

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