The Slatest

Obama Delivers Tearful Eulogy: “Beau Biden Was an Original”

President Barack Obama kisses Vice President Joe Biden on the cheek as he hugs him after delivering the eulogy during the funeral for Biden’s son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, at St. Anthony of Padua church in Wilimington, Delaware on June 6, 2015.

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

President Obama led around 1,000 mourners on Saturday and paid tribute to former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the eldest son of Vice President Joe Biden, who died last week of brain cancer at 46. “A man is original when he speaks the truth that has always been known to all good men,” President Barack Obama said in his eulogy, quoting Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh, notes Politico. “Beau Biden was an original,” Obama said. “He was a good man. A man of character. A man who loved deeply and was loved in return.”

Throughout his remembrance, Obama made a point of emphasizing how Beau Biden lived a life of meaning and worked hard not to take advantage of his family’s name, preferring to work hard when he could have just as easily been handed things. When a police officer wanted to let a young Beau Biden out with a warning for speeding after he recognized his family name, “Beau made him write that ticket,” Obama said.

The president also spoke movingly about his close relationship to the vice president, referring to his own family as “honorary members” of the “Biden clan.” Obama added: “We are here to grieve with you, but more importantly, we are here because we love you.”

The president, First Lady Michelle Obama and their two daughters joined several Washington leaders, including the Clintons, at the Roman Catholic funeral mass at St. Anthony of Padua in Wilmington for an emotional ceremony that was not just a tribute to Beau Biden but also to his entire family. Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin also volunteered to perform at the service after he heard thorugh a family friend that Beau loved his music, reports NBC News. Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were also present along with other lawmakers and members of Obama’s cabinet.

Saturday’s mass involved a type of role reversal for Vice President Joe Biden, who over the years has developed a reputation of comforting those in grief in the wake of the death of his wife and daughter four decades ago, notes the Washington Post.  

The funeral ended a period of public mourning that lasted for three days, as Beau Biden’s casket lay in honor in the state Senate chamber on Thursday ahead of a public viewing at St. Anthony on Friday. People lined up for as many as five hours to pay their respects, reports CNN. “The Biden family is an icon here in Delaware,” said Jack Morton, who once worked for the Bidens. “We are here to pay our respects, not just to a great person, but to a great family.”