Emotional Biden receives Presidential Medal of Freedom | News | DW | 13.01.2017
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Emotional Biden receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Obama has bestowed his final Medal of Freedom to his "lion of American history" deputy Joe Biden. A tearful Biden had not been told he would be receiving the award.

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Obama suprises Biden

"An extraordinary man with an extraordinary career," said US President Barack Obama opened his tribute to right-hand man Joe Biden, in a ceremony to honor the outgoing vice president. In a speech detailing Biden's decades of public service, Obama quipped that "Delaware elected him to the Senate as soon as they could," referencing how Biden entered the legislature at the impressively young age of 29.

Biden and Obama have become famous for their close working relationship and warm friendship, and the vice president remained visibly emotional throughout the ceremony. "The finest vice president we have ever seen," Obama called him, further praising him as "a lion of American history."

The president also took the opportunity to tease Biden, saying "I have not even mentioned Amtrak or aviators," joking about the vice president's famous penchant for using public transportation and his stylish eyewear.

Caught by surprise

The vice president was apparently unaware that he was to receive the Medal of Freedom during the ceremony, and had to turn away from the cameras to dab his eyes when he realized what was happening.

"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, I'd like to ask the military aid to join us on stage. For the final time as president, I am pleased to award our nation's highest civilian honor," said Obama as he draped the medal around Biden's neck.

After composing himself, Biden quietly said "Mr President, I'm indebted to you. I'm indebted to your friendship. I'm indebted to your family."

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