Margaret Talev: Why Joe Biden Wanted Barack Obama to Deliver His Son’s Eulogy
Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama went through the fires together: two presidential campaigns, economic collapse, war, terrorism, destabilization of the Arab world and societal change that spawned the Tea Party and gay marriage waves simultaneously. But aides say it is the men’s shared experience with personal grief, and an unexpected bonding of their wives, daughters and grandchildren, more than their tests as officeholders, that have turned a political partnership between two men separated by race, age and temperament into a deep, if mostly unsung, friendship.
That’s a dynamic many Americans will see on Saturday, when Obama delivers the eulogy for Biden’s son Beau, a husband, father, veteran and rising political star who seemed destined to carry on his father’s legacy before his death from brain cancer on May 30 at age 46. Obama called Biden on the night Beau died. By the time the call ended, he had been tasked with a humbling assignment: To say the final words about Beau that the vice president and his wife Jill are too grief-stricken to utter. “The president . . . has this reputation for being cold or distant—but he isn’t,” Klain said. “For the people in his orbit, the people he has a chance to get to know, he has a real sense of family” and the Bidens “are part of that. I think it’s a loss that he feels personally.” Biden wanted Obama to deliver the eulogy because he felt that Obama would know instinctively what the family would want others to know about Beau.
Earlier this year, on St. Patrick’s Day, Biden addressed a group in Pennsylvania and recounted how he had felt when researchers discovered that his own great-great grandfather and Obama’s great-great-great grandfather each had been shoemakers in Ireland who emigrated within five weeks of one another. “I thought to myself, isn’t that the Irish of it,” Biden said. “All their dreams, could they ever [have] dreamed 160 years later, two shoemakers’ great, great grandsons would be sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States of America.”
And when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
Statement from Vice President Joe Biden
It is with broken hearts that Hallie, Hunter, Ashley, Jill and I announce the passing of our husband, brother and son, Beau, after he battled brain cancer with the same integrity, courage and strength he demonstrated every day of his life. The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words. We know that Beau’s spirit will live on in all of us—especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children, Natalie and Hunter.
Beau’s life was defined by service to others. As a young lawyer, he worked to establish the rule of law in war-torn Kosovo. A major in the Delaware National Guard, he was an Iraq War veteran and was awarded the Bronze Star. As Delaware’s Attorney General, he fought for the powerless and made it his mission to protect children from abuse.
More than his professional accomplishments, Beau measured himself as a husband, father, son and brother. His absolute honor made him a role model for our family. Beau embodied my father’s saying that a parent knows success when his child turns out better than he did.
In the words of the Biden family: Beau Biden was, quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known.
If tears could build a stairway
and thoughts a memory lane
VP Joe would walk right up to heaven
and bring you home again
You were gone before they knew it
And only God knows why.
You were the best of all of them
And the twinkle in your families eye
With heart’s still active in sadness
And secret tears still flow
What it meant to lose you
No one can ever know.
And now they know you’d want them
To mourn for you no more
To remember all the happy times
Life still has so much in store.
Since you’ll never be forgotten
Your family pledges today
A hallowed place within their hearts
Is where you’ll always stay.
If you would like to leave some words of condolences for the Biden family, the White House has graciously provided a way to do so here
I went back and found some notes I wrote to a friend when I saw Beau Biden and Kamala Harris give a talk on gun reform in July 2013. I want to share them with you because the overwhelming feeling I got from him was that he was such a great human being:
The first thing that comes to your mind when you see Beau Biden is how much he looks like his father. I mean, really, really looks like his father, and with some of the same mannerisms. Then you listen to him speak and what comes across is just how smart, compassionate and dedicated he is when he talks about his work and his family. He talked about his Dad a lot.
He and Kamala are long-time friends and they spoke about the challenge of working on common sense gun reform. Beau talked about his experience with this issue in particular as AG for Delaware. He spoke for about 20 minutes or so and then took questions for at least another hour. He was very, very generous with his time and did his best to address questions that were very challenging. Kamala Harris is also gorgeous and crazy smart. She projects strength and courage in so many, many ways, I’m just thrilled that she is my AG. SO, these are two very distinguished rising stars in our party and we should be very proud of them. I want to encourage all of us to keep track and support them both in any way we can.
After the event I walked up to him just to thank him. I waited patiently as he was mobbed with people wanting to give him their card and introduce themselves and have a photo taken. Then Christine Pelosi walked up next to me and when Beau was free, I told her to go ahead and get in there and meet him. He was very glad to meet her and they talked for a few minutes about the work she’s doing now and some of the stuff that’s happening now with PBO and VPB on gun reform. They both talked about how much they loved PBO’s remarks on Trayvon in the WH briefing room and Beau said he thought PBO should do more of that because he’s so good at it. Then when the moment came, he turned toward me and I shook his hand and thanked him for his service and just said I want to wish him the best in this very tough fight. He was soooooo sweet and thanked me. I told him I love his father very much and he seemed very touched by that. He looked at me and said, you know, my father is really, in real life, really a very nice man, a very good man. I said, I know! That is why I love him! And your mother, too. He said, yes, my mother, too. I thanked all three of them for their service to our nation. He seemed very sincerely touched by that. He said he’s going to need a lot of help when the legislature looks at his gun reform bill again in Delaware in January and I said if I can help, I will. He smiled and thanked me and said, please stay in touch with me. Please join my Facebook page. I smiled and said, OK.
Honestly, Beau is just a very warm, honest man and one of the most sincere guys you’ll ever meet. Just a wonderful man. And again, OMG, just very, very handsome in person, incredibly fit. Anyway, I so wish you could have been there with me. It was very, very special. My admiration for them both for taking on this incredibly important issue is truly boundless.
I’m know that VP Joe must be inconsolable. I cannot imagine losing a son, losing such a bright star. I hope in the days to come he will find a measure of comfort from the outpouring of love and respect the world over. He and Jill are so beloved.
The world remembers a beautiful soul
An honest man here lies at rest,
The friend of man, the friend of truth,
The friend of age, and guide of youth:
Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,
Few heads with knowledge so inform’d;
If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.
Beau Biden made every life he touched better. Please hold his family in your hearts.
I will wait for you…
Though we never had a chance to say goodbye,
When winter snows are falling through a quiet sky
I’ll remember you
When, in our darkest hour,
You held my hand and prayed I wouldn’t go,
But a silent voice called out to me;
My time had come, and I had to travel Home…
Since then, I know your life has never been the same,
For I visit you each day:
So many times I’ve felt your pain:
I’ve watched you cry:
And I’ve heard you call my name…
But now, further along life’s road I stand
In a timeless world, just beyond your sight,
Waiting for the day when I can take your hand and bring you across
to this land of Golden Light…
Till then, remember me, you understand-and try not to cry.
But if you do:
Let your tears fall
For the happiness and joy we knew,
And for the special love we shared,
For love can never die.
Don’t cry for me now I have died, for I’m still here I’m by your side,
My body’s gone but my soul’s is here, please don’t shed another tear,
I am still here I’m all around, only my body lies in the ground.
I am the snowflake that kisses your nose,
I am the frost, that nips your toes.
I am the sun ,bringing you light,
I am the star, shining so bright.
I am the rain, refreshing the earth,
I am the laughter, I am the mirth.
I am the bird, up in the sky,
I am the cloud, that’s drifting by.
I am the thoughts, inside your head,
While I’m still there, I can’t be dead.
Heartbroken at Beau Biden's passing. Every time I saw him he was gracious, kind, & true. In short: He was a Biden. http://t.co/K3U44yQrn0