Delaware National Guard names headquarters after Beau Biden


NEW CASTLE — Exactly one year to the day of Beau Biden’s death, the Biden family and dozens of friends gathered at Delaware National Guard headquarters to honor a man they hailed as a dedicated public servant, father, son, husband, brother and friend.

With Vice President Joe Biden and Beau Biden’s widow, Hallie, in attendance, the National Guard headquarters was renamed the Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center.

Mr. Biden, the eldest son of the vice president, died last year of brain cancer at age 46.

He served as Delaware’s attorney general from 2007 to 2015 and as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard, where he rose to the rank of major, from 2003 until his death.

Vice President Biden spoke for just under 20 minutes, appearing emotional at times but also invoking a laugh from the audience at one point.

He thanked Delawareans for lending the Bidens their support over the past year and reminisced about his son, with frequent references to his family.

Mr. Biden may have been best known for being the vice president’s son and serving as attorney general of the First State, but he was also, speakers said Monday, a guardsman who cared deeply about service to the country.

On Memorial Day he was saluted for his patriotism and the National Guard headquarters’ new sign was unveiled in front of a crowd that included veterans and current soldiers.

“Major Beau Biden was truly a beautiful soul,” Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, head of the Delaware National Guard, said. “He was undoubtedly the most morally upright person that I have ever known.”

Maj. Gen. Vavala, Gov. Jack Markell and Vice President Biden all spoke of Mr. Biden as a selfless, dedicated man with a bright future, a man who cared deeply about his family, his faith and his country.

“Duty. How many times I, mom, Hallie, his kids, brother, sister heard Beau mention the word duty? … The incredible thing is it all fit together for Beau,” Vice President Biden said. “His relationship with his brother and sister, his faith and the military. All the values were in sync.”

Mr. Biden’s impact is felt as far as southeastern Europe, where a street in Kosovo has been renamed after him for the volunteer work he did there in helping the country establish a judicial system more than decade ago.

Mr. Biden, the vice president said, would have been self-conscious about being honored Monday, preferring to focus on other men and women who served.

“Beau loved the Guard. Beau loved serving with brothers and sisters, whether it was in the middle of a Gulf Spill down in Mississippi or whether it was in Baghdad,” he said. “Many of you are here today who were in his unit. There was nothing — nothing, nothing — he was more proud of.”

During the remarks, several Bidens in the crowd gave brief hugs to one another, and after the sign in honor of Beau Biden was unveiled, the vice president appeared to wipe a tear from his eye.

Afterward, he spent about 30 minutes greeting people in the audience and taking photos with them, as is his wont.

He could not resist a shoutout to Delaware’s lone member of the House of Representatives, Rep. John Carney, a Democrat who is running for governor and was in attendance Monday.

“I told you before, John: There’s nothing Beau would rather do than see you for governor,” he said.

Beau Biden had declared his intent to run for governor about a year before he died.

As the Bidens walked out of the National Guard building to the stage and seating set up nearby, they passed by a newly unveiled plaque honoring Mr. Biden.

The group stopped to look at it, and the vice president reached out to touch it briefly before grabbing the hands of his wife, Jill, and daughter-in-law Hallie and turning to walk to the stage area.

“In honor and recognition of the dedication and commitment of Major Joseph R. ‘Beau’ Biden III to the state of Delaware and the United States of America throughout his 11 years of service in the Delaware National Guard. His influence had far-reaching positive effects not only in the military but in all facets of society.

He was a role model for all, a man to be emulated and a First State treasure,” it reads.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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