Obama: Beau Biden was a ‘man of character’ – USA TODAY
President Obama lauded Beau Biden Saturday as “a man of character,” saying the vice president’s son honored his family, state, and nation as a military veteran and a public servant.
“We are here to grieve with you, but more importantly, we are here because we love you,” the president told the Biden family during his eulogy at a Catholic church in Wilmington, Del.
Beau Biden, 46, a former Delaware attorney general who had planned to run for governor, died a week ago after a long bout with brain cancer.
Calling him a natural leader, Obama noted that Beau turned down an appointment as attorney general so that he could run (and win) the office on his own. He praised him for fighting on behalf of homeowners and the pool, and for serving the nation in Iraq.
“The titles that come with family — husband, father, son, brother, uncle — were the ones Beau valued above any other,” Obama said.
Like his father, Obama said, Beau was “someone who cared — someone who charmed you, and disarmed you, and put you at ease.”
The president, first lady Michelle Obama, their daughter Sasha, and a host of political dignitaries attended the Saturday morning funeral at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church.
Other attendees included former President Bill Clinton; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif,; many other congressional lawmakers; and most members of the Obama Cabinet.
Some 1,000 mourners packed the large church.
Beau Biden, an Iraq War veteran, was also eulogized by Gen. Raymond Odierno, who presented a military award — the Legion of Merit — in Beau’s memory. Odierno, who served as commanding general in Iraq at the same time Beau was deployed there, called Biden a man of “great character” who could well have gone on to lead the nation.
“A life much too short, but a life that had incredible meaning,” Odierno said.
Beau Biden’s siblings, Ashley and Hunter, are also scheduled to speak.
Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay, is scheduled to perform at the ceremony, as are soloist Ciaran Sheehan, cellist Jesus Morales and trumpeter Sgt. First Class Roger Blanchard.
Beau Biden loved Coldplay’s music, and Martin volunteered to sing at the funeral when he heard that through a mutual friend, the Biden family said in a statement.
The mass included a congregation-wide singing of “Amazing Grace,” as well as renditions of “Amazing Grace” and “Ave Maria.”
Vice President Biden and his family, along with a Delaware police bagpipe-and-drum band and a horse-mounted police guard, accompanied the hearse to the church.
The Catholic Mass follows two days of services for him. Delaware residents and political leaders gathered at the state capitol in Dover on Thursday to pay their respects. A public viewing took place at St. Anthony’s on Friday.
During Thursday’s service, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell described Beau Biden as a “model” for both public and private life, and expressed his grief for the vice president and his family.
“To the Biden family, we can’t begin to understand the depth of your loss,” he said. “Know that we grieve with you. Beau is now of the ages.”
The vice president has known this kind of pain before.
In late 1972, shortly after his first election to the U.S. Senate from Delaware, Biden lost his first wife and their infant daughter in a car wreck. The accident badly injured his two young sons, Beau and Hunter.
Obama mentioned that tragedy in his eulogy, saying young Beau’s recovery from his mother’s and sister’s death taught him how to live a “life of meaning” and lead “a life for others.”
On Thursday night, Vice President Biden and wife Jill were in Washington to attend the middle school graduation of one of their granddaughters. They were joined there by the president and Mrs. Obama, whose daughter also graduated.
In a statement following the announcement of Beau’s death, Obama said that the son took after his father in so many ways.
“He chased a life of public service, like his dad, serving in Iraq and as Delaware’s Attorney General,” Obama said. “Like his dad, Beau was a good, big-hearted devoutly Catholic and faithful man, who made a difference in the lives of all he touched â and he lives on in their hearts.”
The vice president said in a statement: “In the words of the Biden family: Beau Biden was, quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known.”
Joe Biden has often been called upon to console those in grief, including 2012 remarks to military families in which his referenced Beau’s deployment to Iraq.
“When he came home â it’s going to sound strange to you â we felt almost a little guilty because he came home,” Biden told families who had lost loved ones. “Because there’s so many funerals I’ve attended, so many bases I’ve visited. And you know, not all losses are equal. Not all losses are equal.”