Vice President Joe Biden (R), puts his hand on his heart as he and granddaughter Natalie and stepmother Jill Biden look on before a funeral mass for former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of Vice President Biden, at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Delaware June 6, 2015. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston - RTX1FETI

Day 130: Six Years On, Biden Family Loss Looms Large.

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Biden’s first Memorial Day weekend in office coincided with the six-year anniversary of his son’s death.

Family Looms Large For Biden on Memorial Day Weekend.

President Joe Biden spent Sunday of Memorial Day weekend at home in Delaware. In what Biden called “the toughest day of the year,” the sixth anniversary of his son Beau Biden’s death of brain cancer coincided with Memorial Day weekend and took a prominent place in Biden’s Memorial Day observances. Biden has suggested that his son’s death was linked to exposure to toxic burn pits in Iraq—saying that Beau left as a healthy young man but it was “just a matter of how long he lived” when he returned—though he admits the link is not confirmed. 

The Biden family attended a memorial mass for Beau Biden held at St. Joseph’s on the Brandywine on Sunday morning before Biden participated in an annual event at Veterans Memorial Park in New Castle, Delaware. 

Biden boasts a keen awareness of service member deaths, making his offbeat posture toward Memorial Day weekend a day earlier even more puzzling. “Every day since I was Vice President, I’ve carried with me a card with the exact number of troops killed in our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Biden said. “Not an approximation or a rounded number; an accounting of every life laid down for our country over the 20 years of war. Today, it’s 7,036 military members—fallen angels—have given the ‘last full measure of devotion.'”

Biden referred to a recent conversation with Chinese president Xi Jinping, saying, “I had a long conversation—for two hours—recently with President Xi, making it clear to him that we could do nothing but speak out for human rights around the world because that’s who we are.” (Not because serial and extreme human rights abusers are what the Chinese Communist Party are—but because human rights defenders are what the United States are.) Biden added, in a slightly different tone, “I’ll be meeting with President Putin in a couple of weeks in Geneva, making it clear that we will not—we will not stand by and let him abuse those rights.”

Biden’s Weekend Getaways Now A Staple of White House Life.

Biden “thinks of [the White House] more like a Monday-through-Friday kind of place” and “really, really high-end corporate housing,” a source “familiar with Biden’s thinking” told CNN. Biden spends nearly three times as many weekends away from the White House as he spends at the presidential residence, sometimes deciding to leave on a relatively last-minute basis, causing some turmoil among staff who manage the logistics of presidential movements.

A short trip as president doesn’t mean “Amtrak Joe” catching a late train any more; it means mobilizing an entourage of dozens and shutting down roads during rush hour in Wilmington, Delaware, prompting one rankled resident to opine: “You can be president, but you can’t make us suffer.”


Staff Writer

The National Pulse is a part of the American Principles Project.