Obama Delivers Touching Eulogy at Beau Biden’s Funeral
WILMINGTON, Del., June 6 (UPI) — President Barack Obama solemnly expressed his condolences at the funeral of Beau Biden Saturday, exactly one week after the vice president’s son died following a two-year battle with brain cancer.
Obama and the first family, the Bidens and numerous other relatives, friends and dignitaries attended the funeral mass Saturday to remember the Delaware attorney general and Iraq War veteran.
“Beau Biden was an original,” Obama said in his eulogy. “He was a good man, a man of character, a man who loved deeply, and was loved in return.
“Beau did in 46 years what most of us couldn’t do in 146.”
Vice President Joe Biden wiped away tears throughout the service for his 46-year-old son, whose full name is Joseph Robinette Biden III.
“To Jill and to Joe, we are here to grieve with you. But more importantly, we are here because we love you,” the president said directly to Beau’s father and stepmother. “Joe, you are my brother. I’m grateful every single day that you’ve got that big heart, and a big soul.”
“You can beg God for a lighter burden, but if you’re strong enough, it can also make you ask God for broader shoulders, shoulders broad enough to bear not only your own burdens but the burdens of others,” Obama said. “[Beau] would ask God for broader shoulders.”
More than 1,000 mourners attended Biden’s funeral mass at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del. on Saturday afternoon — including U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Senate leaders Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Harry Reid, D-Nev.
“He made you want to be a better person,” said Obama, who at times struggled to keep his composure. “Isn’t that finally the measure of a man — the way he lives, how he treats others, no matter what life may throw at him?”
This week, the White House posted numerous photos of Beau Biden on its website — showing him at various phases of his life — playing with his children, posing with his father, and exhibiting the charm that came to be known as a trademark.
While the vice president did not speak at Saturday’s funeral, siblings Hunter Biden and Ashley Biden Krein did.
The deadly crash occurred less than two months after Biden was elected as a U.S. senator representing Delaware. He considered resigning, before ever having taken office, to care for his injured young sons — Beau and Hunter — but was persuaded not to. Biden took the oath of office at the hospital treating his boys and has been in public service ever since.
U.S. Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno, who served as the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq when Biden served there in the late 2000s, presented him with the Legion of Merit award — a military honor given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements. Odierno said he always believed that Biden would become president one day.
“Beau possessed the traits I have witnessed only in the greatest leaders,” he said. “He had a natural charisma that few people possess.”
Saturday’s was the third consecutive day of memorial services for Beau Biden. Thursday, hundreds attended a mass at the Delaware statehouse in Dover. Friday, the family observed a private wake.
Dozens of government officials have attended one of more of the memorials, including former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley; Secretary of Treasury Jacob Lew; Delaware Sens. Christopher A. Coons and Thomas R. Carper; Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md.; Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md.; Biden’s former chief of staff Bruce Reed; former Obama senior adviser David Axelrod; and Joe Lockhart, who served as White House press secretary under Bill Clinton.
Vice President Biden ironically foreshadowed the loss of his elder son at Yale University last month, where he delivered the commencement speech.
“Things can change in a heartbeat — I know,” he said, referring to the 1972 crash. “Many people have gone through things like that. But because I had the incredible good fortune of an extended family — grounded in love and loyalty, imbued with a sense of obligation imparted to each of us — I not only got help, but by focusing on my sons I found my redemption.”
The unknown and the fact that no one knows exactly what the future holds was also a notion Obama touched on with his eulogy Saturday.
“We do not know how long we’ve got here. We don’t know when fate will intervene,” the president said. “With every minute that we’ve got, we can live our lives in a way that takes nothing for granted. We can love deeply. We can help people who need help. We can teach our children what matters. We can pass on empathy and compassion and selflessness.”
“We can teach them to have broad shoulders.”