President Barack Obama surprised Vice President Joe Biden by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction during a tribute to the the former Delaware senator on Thursday.
Biden turned away from the cameras to wipe tears away as the president announced he would be honoring him with the highest civilian award in the United States.
Biden is third vice president to be awarded a Medal of Freedom and according to Obama he was giving the medal to Biden “with distinction,” an honor given only to three others: Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and Colin Powell.
“So, Joe, for your faith in your fellow Americans. For your love of country. And for your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations,” said Obama during the event at the White House.
“For the final time as president I am pleased to award our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal Of Freedom.”
An emotional Biden thank Obama saying, “I’m indebted to you, I’m indebted to your friendship, I’m indebted to your family.”
During the tribute Obama highlighted Biden’s political career from his time serving as Delaware senator, to his women’s advocacy work, and his two terms in executive office.
“Behind the scenes, Joe’s honest and candid counsel has made me a better president and commander in chief, from the situation room to our weekly lunches, to our huddles when everyone has left the room, he has been unafraid to give it to me straight,” Obama said.