Surprise Presidential Medal of Freedom
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WASHINGTON D.C.– On January 12, 2017, President Obama awarded his Vice President, Joe Biden, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in front of friends, families, and colleagues during a surprise presentation.
“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 in the ceremony. “For my final time as President, I am pleased to award our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”
The award began with the president recalling all the memories the two men shared in a heartfelt tribute.
As Vice President, Biden’s influence has spanned both domestic and international policy initiatives. He was a critical voice in crafting the strategy for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in encouraging Obama to send Navy SEALs on a mission to capture or kill Osama bin Laden in 2011.The ceremony marked the end of a strong partnership that began in 2008, when President Obama asked his former running rival to be his running mate.
As Obama called up a military aide to read the address, Biden appeared to have broken down with overwhelming emotions.
At the end of the ceremony, Vice President Biden claimed he had no idea that he would be awarded the medal at the ceremony.
“This honor is not only well beyond what I deserve, but it’s a reflection of the extent and generosity of your spirit,” Biden said. “I don’t deserve this but I know it came from the President’s heart.”
Mr. Schmidt, the AP U.S. History teacher at Baldwin Park High School, gave his thoughts on the event, “I don’t know of anything that Biden’s done that deserves an award with that much prestige. I’m sure there’s a lesser award that could have been given to him. This is a rare award, less than 11 are given out every year. If he’s done something extraordinary, then hell yeah. But he’s been in the background for eight years. What have you seen him do? This is basically Barack Obama going, ‘Thanks for being a great vice president. Here’s the nation’s highest award I can give to a civilian.'”