Weekly Comment:
Joe Biden Awarded Medal of Freedom

Joe Biden was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction by Barack Obama in January.

By Olivia O'Mahony, Editorial Assistant
January 13, 2017

Vice President Joe Biden was surprised with a tribute of the highest honor when awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by his president and close friend Barack Obama on Thursday. Obama presented the medal – the highest form of civilian honor existing in the United States – “with distinction,” an additional level of esteem, for the first time in his presidency, and called Biden “a lion of American history” and “the best vice president America has ever had.”

Biden revealed that he had “no inkling” he would receive the medal, and was moved to tears as the president praised his achievements throughout the last eight years, including his championing of the Violence Against Women Act and the initiation of the “It’s On Us” campaign to end sexual violence on college campuses.

“I don’t deserve this,” said an emotional Biden, “but I know it came from the president’s heart. There is a Talmudic saying that what comes from the heart, enters the heart. Mr. President, you have crept into our heart, you and your whole family.”

When Biden was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame in 2013, his Irish ancestry was traced by Irish America’s genealogist Megan Smolenyak, who discovered the birthplace of his father’s great grandfather to be Knockmore, Co. Mayo, and that of his mother’s great grandfather to be the Cooley Peninsula, Co. Louth, both of which locations he visited during a six-day family trip in June 2016.

“As the great Irish poet Bono once said,” Biden joked during his induction speech, “America is not just a place. It’s an idea that has been embraced by the Irish for the last two centuries. The idea of America has borne great fruit, not just for us, but quite frankly for the whole world. There is a never-ending need to nurture that idea of America as a place of possibilities.” ♦

Read more about Joe Biden.

Leave a Reply


More Articles

Joe Biden in Carlingford, Co. Lough, June 25, 2016. Photo: Rollingnews.ie
The U.S. Election, Brexit, and Handling the Pandemic

By Deaglán de Bréadún On a happy note, there has been a general welcome in the Republic and among...


President-elect Joe Biden’s Irish roots – from fleeing Famine Ireland to winning the White House

President-elect Joe Biden’s rich Irish ancestry helped lead him to the White House. By Niall O’Dowd,...


Irish in Government 2020 Collage
U.S. Senator Susan Collins (ME), Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Senator Tom Kaine, former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan,
Former Vice President and Presidential candidate Joe Biden, retired U.S. Marine Corp Lieutenant Colonel and Senate candidate Amy McGrath (KY).
Crossing Over

Beginning in the 1930s, the Irish became more visible in the ranks of Republicans, disrupting decades-old loyalties...


Fiery Joe Biden

A 1987 interview with the then U.S. Senator from Delaware, now presidential hopeful Joe Biden gave his first ever...