President-elect Joe Biden bid a tearful farewell to Delaware on Tuesday, thanking the people of his home state and emotionally reminiscing about his late son, Beau, in his penultimate speech before his inaugural address.
Speaking at a send-off event in Wilmington, where Biden had headquartered his presidential campaign and, later, his presidential transition, he repeatedly broke down weeping as he spoke.
“Excuse the emotion, but when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart. And the hearts of all. We love you all. You’ve been there for us in the good and the bad. You never walked away. And I am proud, proud, proud to be a son of Delaware,” Biden said, with tears streaming down his face.
“And I am even more proud to be standing here doing this from the Major Beau Biden facility. Ladies and gentlemen, I only have one regret. He’s not here. Because, we should be introducing him as president,” Biden, who continued crying, added.
Biden gave his speech at the Major Joseph R. (Beau) Biden III Armed Forces Reserve Center, named for his late son, who died in 2015 from brain cancer.
Beau Biden served in Iraq with the Delaware Army National Guard, and the reserve center was named in his honor in 2016.
Earlier in his speech, the president-elect, who served as a U.S. senator from the state for 36 years, choked up as he recalled how his decadeslong journey to the White House began in Delaware.
“It’s kind of emotional for me,” he said. “It’s deeply personal to me that our journey to Washington starts here.”
The speech was Biden’s second-to-last before his inauguration Wednesday.
Tuesday evening, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris attended a memorial to Covid-19 victims ahead of the inauguration.
The memorial was held at the Lincoln Memorial’s reflecting pool, which was illuminated by 400 lights to honor the 400,000 people in the U.S. who have died from the disease.
Harris said the ceremony was to mark the time “we grieve and begin healing together.”
There was a prayer offered by Cardinal Wilton Gregory, and two songs were sung to honor lives lost — “Amazing Grace” by Michigan nurse Lori Marie Key, who went viral singing the song during the height of the pandemic, and “Hallelujah” by Gospel singer Yolanda Adams.
“To heal, we must remember. And it’s hard sometimes to remember, but that’s how we heal,” Biden said. “It’s important to do that as a nation. That’s why we’re here today. Between sundown and dusk, let us shine lights in the darkness to remember all who we lost.”
The Biden administration’s biggest challenge will be addressing the coronavirus pandemic during its worst period and trying to distribute vaccines nationwide. The president-elect laid out a comprehensive plan last week to get shots in the arms of people to stem the spread of Covid-19.
Overnight, the United States surpassed 400,000 Covid-19 deaths, according to an NBC News tally. As of early Tuesday morning, the U.S. has reported 400,103 coronavirus-related deaths and 24,177,574 cases. In the past two weeks, an average of 3,286 people in the country have died from the disease each day.
President Donald Trump has no public events on his schedule Tuesday, his final full day in office. Vice President Mike Pence will spend his final full day in office leading a Covid-19 task force meeting in the White House Situation Room.