President Barack Obama surprised Vice-President Joe Biden on Thursday, January 12 with the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction. When Biden realized what was going on, he became emotional and wiped away tears.

Tribute to Biden

President Obama complimented Biden and his family, including his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, their children, and grandchildren. Obama said Biden's family is the kind of family that has built this country. That's why Obama said his family will be honorary Bidens.

Obama called the Vice-President his "brother" and a "lion of American history." He described Biden as good a man as God ever created.

Obama said Biden helped him to become a better president. His remarks also included three reasons to explain why Biden deserves the highest civilian honor.

  • For his faith in his fellow Americans
  • For his love of country
  • For his lifetime of service

Obama vowed that even though their term is ending, the two will be binded as a family forever.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom

As the name indicates, the medal can be awarded only by the President of the United States. It is the highest civilian award that honors people who have made a great contribution to the United States.

Over the years, hundreds of people have received that award without distinction.

What Joe Biden received on January 12, 2017 was the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction. This was the first time Obama presented that type of honor to anyone during his presidency. Now, Biden belongs to a very small club. In fact, he is only the second sitting Vice-President to have received it.

The last award was given by President Gerald Ford to his Vice-President, Nelson A. Rockefeller, in 1977.

Joe Biden's reaction

Other than being totally surprised, Vice-President Biden was humbled. He said he did not deserve it, but he accepted it because he knew it came from the president's heart. He was touched by the gesture and the generosity. During their terms, President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden have been referred to as having something of a "bromance."