Though President-elect Joe Biden had 46 years with his eldest son, Beau Biden, no parent would say that’s nearly enough. On Tuesday, as he was saying goodbye to his home state of Delaware, Biden was once again a grieving father, missing the son who won’t be there with him tomorrow on what should be a day of nothing but celebration.
Before flying to Washington, D.C., for Wednesday’s inauguration, Biden made the speech at the Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center, named after his son, who died in 2015 of cancer.
“I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who moved to the state as a boy and served as its U.S. senator for 36 years. Tearfully paraphrasing a James Joyce quote about having Ireland written on his heart, he said, “Excuse the emotion, but when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart and the hearts of all of us — all the Bidens. We love you all. You’ve been there for us in the good and the bad. You never walked away. I am proud to be standing here doing this from the Major Beau Biden facility.”
And while he is about to take on the biggest job there is, one he has wanted for a long time, this moment clearly makes Biden feels his son’s loss more than ever.
“I only have one regret; that he’s not here,” he said of Beau, who was the attorney general of Delaware. “Because we should be introducing him as president.”
That hits us hard as parents — just the very thought that we’d outlive our kids is unfathomable. To think they’d miss seeing us in our proudest moment is heartbreaking too.
Biden spoke of the last time he left Delaware for Washington, when he was about to serve as vice president to the country’s first Black president, and how he was able to stand at the train station, waiting to meet Obama, with all three of his children. This time around, his son isn’t there, and he has to fly to D.C. because of heightened security after the insurrection at the capital two weeks ago. But he is about to make history again, this time with Beau’s friend, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
“As I told Beau — and Ashley and Hunter — on that station, waiting for Barack, I said, ‘Don’t tell me things can’t change. They can and they do. That’s America and that’s Delaware.’”
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