Joe Biden has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian honor by President Barack Obama. He was both surprised and emotional during the ceremony.
Mr. Obama praised the vice-president for his “faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country and your lifetime of service.”
The timing of the award is interesting as both men are set to leave the office on January 20 when Mr. Trump is inaugurated. Mr. Biden has announced earlier that he plans to stay active in the Democratic Party politics.
Mr. Obama heaped praise as Mr. Biden stood by in visibly emotional state. President Obama said that Mr. Biden was the “best possible choice, not just for me, but for the American people.”
An additional honor which has been reserved for only a handful of recipients in the recent administrations, the medal was awarded with a distinction. Pope John Paul II was one of the recipients.
Mr. Obama also joked that the internet would have a last chance to mock at the pair’s “bromance.”
Mr. Biden who attended the ceremony with his wife Jill said that he had no idea the award was coming. “I had no inkling,” he said.
After the award, the vice-president said that:
“I was part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things. Mr. President, I’m indebted to you. I’m indebted to your friendship. I’m indebted to your family.”
Presidential Medal of Freedom
- It is the highest civilian award of the United States.
- Superseded Medal of Freedom in 1963 after established by John F. Kennedy.
- Citation: “An especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
- The major categories of recipients include business, military, politics, film, music, and journalism.
- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ellsworth Bunker are the only two-time recipients of the award.
Mr. Obama while reciprocating what the vice-president had said earlier stated that Mr. Biden’s career was “nowhere close to finished” both at home and abroad.
Mr. Biden has said that he plans to work on the policy issues at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware, and to continue his efforts to tackle cancer, which resulted in the death of his son Beau in 2015.
Mr. Biden gave an hour-long interview to media outlets earlier on Thursday in which he sharply criticized Mr. Trump for his condemnation of the U.S. Intelligence services. He said:
“It is really very damaging in my view to our standing in the world for a president to take one of the crown jewels of our national defense and denigrate it.”
He also added that this plays into the Russian narrative that America doesn’t know what it’s doing. Although he was critical of Mr. Trump, he was full of praise for his successor, Mike Pence. He said that he had sent memos to Mr. Pence on how to handle certain situations.