Joe Biden Cries as President Obama Surprises Him With Presidential Medal of Freedom

Jan 12, 2017

Vice President Joe Biden burst into tears as President Barack Obama awarded him with the nation's highest civilian honor during a surprise ceremony Thursday.

Biden turned his back to cameras and those in the crowd to wipe away tears moments after Obama announced he was bestowing the vice president with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“I had no inkling,” Biden said after the emotional moment.

Obama was paying tribute to Biden, who he called “my brother” and “a lion of American history,” when he suddenly invited a military aide to join them with the medal.

Biden first shook his head in disbelief and then kept his eyes facing skyward while taking deep breaths as Obama prepared to tie the medal around Biden’s neck. The two then hugged.

"This honor is not only well beyond what I deserve , but it’s a reflection of the extent and generosity of your spirit. I don’t deserve this, but I know it came from the President’s heart,” Biden said.

“It’s an amazing thing that happened,” Biden added, recalling the start of their friendship. “I knew how smart you were. I knew how honorable you were. I knew how decent you were … I am indebted to you. I am indebted to your friendship.”

At the start of the news conference, Obama made a reference to the many memes circulated the internet about the pair’s friendship. "This also gives the internet one last chance to talk about our bromance,” Obama said.

TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.