On Thursday, President Barack Obama awarded his last Presidential Medal of Freedom, to Vice President Joe Biden. It came as a complete and utter surprise to Biden, who teared up as the president hung the medal around his neck.
“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 aide to join us on stage,” Obama said, according to CNN. “For my final time as president, I am pleased to award our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”
President Obama has awarded more people the Presidential Medal of Freedom than any other president. He has awarded 123 medals, while President Ronald Reagan awarded 102. President John F. Kennedy inaugurated the practice, and every president since has awarded the medals.
Vice President Biden is only the third vice president to win the award, and only the second to win the award while serving in office. President Gerald Ford awarded his vice president, Nelson Rockefeller, in the last few days of his administration in 1977. President Jimmy Carter presented the award to Hubert Humphrey in 1980. Humphrey had died two years previously, and served as vice president to President Lyndon Johnson.
“If you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person you’ve got a problem,” Obama said. “He’s as good a man as God ever created.” Would the many women awkwardly consoled by Vice President Biden agree?