Beau Biden was laid to rest Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware. His untimely death, from brain cancer at just 46, is a tragedy for Vice President Joe Biden—more grief to add to the loss of his wife and daughter decades ago, in a car crash that young Beau survived.
The sadness of the Biden family has to a remarkable and moving extent become a national sadness, too. The death of the former Delaware attorney general has produced an outpouring of grief that is both bipartisan and perhaps surprisingly large for a man who never held national office and always seemed to shy away from the spotlight, even as he pursued a life of public service.
President Obama delivered one of several eulogies at Biden’s funeral at St. Anthony of Padua Church, speaking for more than 20 minutes and getting choked up several times while bringing tears to the faces of those listening. He focused on how the young boy was marked by the accident that killed his mother and sister when he was four.
“From his dad he learned to get back up when he was down,” the president said. "Rather than use his childhood trauma for justification for a life of self-pity or self-centeredness, that very young boy made a very grown-up decision: He would live a life of meaning, he would live a life for others." That decision resulted in an honorable, admirable, and accomplished man, Obama said: “He did in 46 years what most of us couldn't do in 146 years.”