By John Celock
Celebrated as a selfless and loving “original” by his siblings and President Barack Obama, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden was laid to rest Saturday.
During a funeral Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del., Biden’s personality, character, military service, family commitment and public service was celebrated. Biden, the 46-year-old son of Vice President Joe Biden and Second Lady Jill Biden, passed away last Saturday of brain cancer.
“He did in 46 years what most of us could not do in 146,” Obama said in one of four eulogies delivered during the ceremony.
Obama talked about Biden’s life and how he was shaped by the 1972 car accident that killed his mother and younger sister and left him and his brother severely injured. The president said that events like that could leave someone angry or make them want to do more and give them “broad shoulders” and a heart to love.
Obama noted how Joe Biden would commute daily by train from Delaware to the U.S. Senate in order to be with both of his sons as a single parent. Describing Beau Biden as an “original” three times in his eulogy, he noted that his father’s love shaped Biden but that he was “his own man.”
“As Joe himself confessed to me, he did this not only because the kids needed me, he did it because he needed those kids. Somehow Beau sensed that, somehow how deeply hurt his family and father was,” Obama said. “Rather than use his childhood trauma for a life of self pity. That very young boy would live a life for others. He would ask God for broader shoulders.”
Obama noted Beau Biden’s personality, which he said was one that would “put you at ease.” He said that he would be the one who would whisper “something wildly inappropriate” to you at a “fancy fundraiser with people who take themselves too seriously.”
The president also cited Biden’s work as Delaware attorney general, including in the area of child protection, along with Biden’s service in the Delaware National Guard, which included a one-year tour in Iraq. During the funeral, Biden was posthumously awarded the Legion of Merit.
Biden stepped down earlier this year after eight years as Delaware attorney general and had announced plans to seek the state’s governorship next year. Delaware’s most popular politician, he was considered the frontrunner to succeed term limited Gov. Jack Markell (D) next year. Biden’s entry into the governor’s race forced then Lt. Gov. Matt Denn (D) last year to abandon plans to seek the governorship and instead successfully run to succeed Biden as attorney general.
Obama’s eulogy was as much a tribute to Beau Biden as it was to the entire Biden family, including to the man who has served as his vice president since 2009. Obama talked about the character of the entire family and how he and his family were proud to be close to the Bidens.
“Joe you are my brother and I am grateful everyday that you have such a big heart and big soul and those broad shoulders. I couldn’t admire you more,” Obama said.
Biden was eulogized by his two siblings, Hunter and Ashley, who remembered his career and his personality. Ashley Biden talked about how her two older brothers played an important role in raising her and how close Beau Biden was to his family, especially his wife, Hallie, and children, Natalie and Hunter.
“He was the captain of our lives,” Ashley Biden said.
Ashley Biden also talked about how Beau Biden introduced her to her husband, Howard Krien, and what she said was Beau Biden’s selfless personality.
Hunter Biden talked about the car accident that he and his brother survived and how his earliest memory was being in a hospital bed with his brother, and Beau Biden holding his hand and saying “I love you” over and over again.
“My brother is not defined by his extraordinary resume. He is defined by his extraordinary character,” Hunter Biden said. “The boy, the man who always held you close, who always made you feel safe. The one you could always count on for a special kindness. The only who was always there when you needed him most.”