Joe Biden became teary-eyed Tuesday afternoon as he delivered a speech thanking his staff and honoring his late son, Beau Biden, saying it should have been Beau who was about to be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
At the Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard Center, named after his son who died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46, the former veep’s voice broke and he shed a tear as he told a crowd of supporters that Delaware was “written on his heart.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, I only have one regret: He’s not here, because we should be introducing him as president,” Biden said, with tears in his eyes.
“When I die, Delaware will be written on my heart and the hearts of all the Bidens. We love you all,” said Biden, 78.
“You’ve been there for us in the good and the bad. You’ve never walked away and I am proud, proud, proud to be a son of Delaware and I am even more proud to be standing here doing this from the Major Beau Biden facility,” he said.
“My only regret is that he can’t be here today,” he went on.
Beau Biden served as the 44th Attorney General of Delaware and was believed to hold ambitions for higher political office before his untimely death.
The father-of-two also served as a major in the Delaware Army National Guard and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal after a year of active-duty service in Iraq.
Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden will spend Tuesday evening at Blair House, the historic home across from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, before taking the oath of office at a heavily fortified US Capitol on Wednesday.
President Trump will depart the White House early Wednesday and have a departure ceremony of his own at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland around 8 a.m., snubbing his successor’s swearing-in and ignoring a century-old tradition of peacefully handing over power.
Biden served as a US senator from Delaware for 36 years before Sen. Barack Obama tapped him to be his vice president in 2009.
The Democratic stalwart on Tuesday thanked the First State for taking a chance on him and electing him to the Senate when he was “just a kid.”
“It’s deeply personal that our next journey to Washington starts here,” Biden said. “A place that defines the very best of who we are as Americans. I know these are dark times, but there is always light. That’s what makes this state so special, that’s what this state has taught me the most.”
Just weeks after Biden was elected to the Senate at age 29, his first wife, Neilia, and baby daughter, Naomi, were killed when their car was hit by a tractor-trailer. He was sworn into office in the hospital room of his surviving sons, Hunter and Beau.
Before jumping on a plane to Joint Base Andrews bound for Washington, Biden noted that he had been part of two history-making administrations.
“Twelve years ago, I was waiting at the train station in Wilmington for a black man to pick me up on our way to Washington, where we were sworn in as president and vice president of the United States of America,” he said.
“And here we are today, my family and I, about to return again to Washington, to meet a black woman of South Asian descent, to be sworn in as president and vice president of the United States,” he continued, referring to his incoming veep, Kamala Harris.
“As I told Beau on that train station waiting for Barack, don’t tell me that things can’t change. They can and they do. That’s America. That’s Delaware,” he said.
Biden had hoped to take the Amtrak train from Delaware to Washington, recreating the journey he took in 2009 with Obama who caught a train from Philadelphia and picked up Biden in Wilmington before arriving in the nation’s capital for their swearing in.
But security concerns in the wake of this month’s siege on Congress curtailed those plans.
Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States in front of an empty National Mall guarded by tens of thousands of National Guard troops amid fears that there will be more attacks from pro-Trump supporters unhappy with the election result.