President Barack Obama Surprises an Emotional, Surprised Joe Biden With Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Barack Obama surprised Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday, January 12, by presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

During the White House tribute, Biden appeared visibly emotional, wiping away tears as Obama praised him and his family. Watch the touching moment Biden found out he was receiving the honor in the clip above.

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) presents the Medal of Freedom to Vice-President Joe Biden during an event in the State Dinning room of the White House, January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC.
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) presents the Medal of Freedom to Vice-President Joe Biden during an event in the State Dinning room of the White House, January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

While calling Biden his “brother” and a “lion of American history,” Obama added: "To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully. … As one of his long-time colleagues in the senate who happened to be a Republican once said, ‘If you can't admire Joe Biden as a person, you have got a problem.' He is as good a man as god ever created."

“For the final time as president, I am pleased to award our nation’s highest civilian honor, the presidential medal of freedom,” Obama said, as a shocked Biden turned away from the crowd momentarily while wiping away tears. 

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden wipes his eyes as Preident Barack Obama presents him with Medal of Freedom during an event in the State Dinning room of the White House January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden wipes his eyes as Preident Barack Obama presents him with Medal of Freedom during an event in the State Dinning room of the White House January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

Obama concluded that he chose to add an additional level of veneration to the medal for the first time in his presidency. The past three recipients of the medal with distinction include Pope John Paul II, former President Ronald Reagan and General Colin Powell.

U.S. President Barack Obama, front, embraces U.S. Vice President Joe Biden after his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.
U.S. President Barack Obama, front, embraces U.S. Vice President Joe Biden after his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Biden is only the second sitting vice president to receive the award. President Gerald Ford last gave his vice president, Nelson A. Rockefeller, the award in 1977.

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