Vice President Joe Biden greeted and thanked every person, from dignitaries to ordinary Delaware citizens, who came to pay their final respects to his son Beau Biden on Thursday.
The former state attorney general and Iraq war veteran passed away from brain cancer at age 46.
His flag-draped casket was brought to Legislative Hall at the Delaware State Capitol for mourners to file past.
Biden stood next to his son’s casket, along with his wife Jill, who was comforting Beau Biden’s daughter, Natalie. Next to her was Beau’s widow, Hallie, their son, Hunter, and Joe Biden’s surviving son, Hunter.
Another public memorial will be held today at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Wilmington. The funeral will be at the church on Saturday, with President Obama delivering the eulogy.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power showed up to the Thursday memorial.
The White House pool reporter noted that, though clearly overwhelmed with grief, Biden’s “spirits seem to have picked up” as he greeted those who came through the long receiving line.
The vice president spent a few hours greeting well-wishers, with the pool reporter noting it was “hard to differentiate” his friendly greeting for people he knew and strangers — with the Bidenesque hugs and kisses:
Some he’ll greet by name before they can even say hello. Others require a politician’s touch. “Sure I remember you,” he said to one man, who then apparently asked if he remembered his name. “I can’t remember your name. I don’t remember my own name sometimes.”
He’s also dishing out some of the standard lines: “Keep the faith” to one man; admiring the full head of white hair of another. To one man and his elderly father, with whom he spoke for about a minute or two, VP ended the exchange by reminding the son of his “most important job”: to take care of pop.
But this is still a very solemn sight. A common refrain heard today is for VP to agree with someone’s assessment of his son. “He was a good guy,” he will say. As pair of elderly women spoke with the VP, they both separately laid hands on Beau’s casket just beside them with reverence, prompting the VP to do the same with them.
The line was still long when Biden was expected to leave at 5 p.m., so he left his sentinel position next to his son’s casket and began moving through the crowd “to greet everyone who was left in line,” telling people “I want to make sure you all know how grateful I am.”
Someone in the line asked the vice president how he was holding up, and Biden responded, “You guys are holding me up.”
— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) June 4, 2015
— NewsBreaker (@NewsBreaker) June 4, 2015
— delawareonline (@delawareonline) June 4, 2015