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 conferring 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 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 . . . 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 Jan. 12 at what had been billed as a modest farewell ceremony for Biden. But it evolved into a surprise 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 transcended 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 and recently began a "cancer moonshot" effort to end the disease 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. It began 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. 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 (9)
  • dsarah-dav
    1/19/2017 - 06:46 p.m.

    In response to "President Obama awards Joe Biden the Medal of Freedom", I agree that Biden was given this award. One reason why I think this was a wise decision is Biden was good at having ideas for the government. It even says in the article," 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." Another reason is that he was experienced and had been involved with the American government ever since 1972. A third reason why I support this is Biden is kind hearted and strong. For example, he continued into becoming a senator right after his wife and baby daughter died due to a car crash back in 1972 and when his son passed away leaving behind his children and wife in 2015 Biden pondered selling his own house to give them money. He did not once Obama said that he would. Even though this pick may have been bias because Biden and Obama have been said to be close friends, that does not take away from the fact that Joe Biden deserved this high award from President Obama.

  • bmaria-dav
    1/19/2017 - 07:33 p.m.


    In response to "President Obama awards Biden the Medal of Freedom," I agree and disagree that Biden should of won the metal of Freedom. One reason I agree is that He did stay by the president's side all Mr. Obama's presidency. Another reason is that he's been through so much in his life and still stays positive. It says in the article "Once was when Biden advocated against the high-stakes raid that killed Osama bin Laden," he went against the president's order's. A third reason he said he would support gay marriage, without the president's approval. Even though he went against the president's orders many times, I think he always thought positive after facing all his losses.

  • fernandoc3-sch
    1/19/2017 - 09:12 p.m.

    In response to this article I agree that Joe Biden was rewarded appropriately for his work in office. One reason I agree is that he made changes in the government and was a great vice president to be remembered. Another reason is that over the last 8 years, he has been a great help in supporting former president Barack Obama help this country.

  • jahir-orv
    1/20/2017 - 02:29 a.m.

    I never really knew that Barack Obama and Joe Biden were close acquaintances. That was nice of Obama to commend Biden.

  • cbail-wim4
    1/20/2017 - 11:46 a.m.

    I think that Biden deserved the 'Medal of Freedom' because the vice president is like the president's right hand.

  • rsull-wim4
    1/20/2017 - 11:50 a.m.

    I actually watched president Obama, not for long though, give joe biden the medal of freedom on television. I liked that he served in politics for more than a decade. and I liked that joe was run for president in 2008 just like Obama and that he agreed to be the vice president of the united states.

  • vanessao-bur
    1/23/2017 - 07:37 p.m.

    What President Obama meant was that Joe Biden served him and his country well and he was always deeply into politics. I think that Joe Biden was a good vice president and he served his country well.

  • brycew-orv
    1/24/2017 - 11:09 a.m.

    that was nice of Obama to do that. and it makes it better that Biden was not expecting the award

  • lellanor-dav
    2/02/2017 - 10:24 p.m.

    In response to "President Obama awards Biden the Medal of Freedom" I agree Biden should of won the Medal for freedom. One reason I agree is that Biden would focus on important things. In the article it says "Obama praised his vice president for his work on the economic stimulus, middle-class issues and curbing violence against women. Another reason I agree is that Biden and Obama where really close, workers, friends, and basically family. In the article it says, "Over two terms, they developed a bond that both men said transcended the office. Their wives, children and Biden's grandchildren became close friends." The last reason is that you could tell he felt accoladed when he he was awarded. The article says, Biden turned away from the cameras. He wiped away some tears, then stood stoically as Obama draped the blue-and-white ribbon around his neck." Even though I'm sure many other people could of won the award, I think Obama should call the shots, after all he would know better.

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