During one of his final speeches, President Barack Obama apostrophized his Vice President, Joe Biden, referring to him as “the best Vice President America has ever had.” In a surprise tribute to his right hand man and close friend of 8 years, he awarded Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thurs. Jan. 12.
It is generally awarded to citizens who are “especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to Executive Order 9586.
This surprise medal ceremony didn’t only leave Biden in tears, – as he had to turn away from the cameras to clean himself up (it’s a rather emotional thing) – but much of social media, too (as their inherent “bro-mance” that had gained so much attention has received one final medal of validation).
The president even joked during Thursday’s tribute: “This gives the internet one last chance to talk about our bromance.”
Twitter exploded with posts about sobbing and new memes about the two and the friendship they have endured. One of the biggest pictures that kept resurfacing? The best friend bracelets that Obama and Biden had made for each other on Obama’s 55th birthday.
For the first time in his presidency, Obama had given the medal “of distinction,” an extra level of veneration. Obama noted how “the previous three presidents awarded the higher level of the award to only one person each: John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan, and Gen. Colin Powell,” according to NBC News.
“An extraordinary man,” Obama called Biden, “with an extraordinary career in public service.
Biden, still emotional from the surprise, managed to crack a joke when taking the podium. “You’re fired,” he said to his Chief of Staff for not hinting at the surprise.
Only a small number of people knew about the surprise, according to a senior official at the White House.
The Vice President admitted that he “had [an] inkling” as to what the ceremony was truly about. He believed it was a simple farewell speech, looking back on the accomplishments over the last eight years.
Biden thanked the president tearfully, “This honor is not only well beyond what I deserve, but it’s a reflection of the extent and generosity of your spirit.”
“I don’t deserve this. But I know it came from the president’s heart,” he said. “There is a Talmudic saying that says what comes from the heart enters the heart. Mr. President, you have crept into our heart, you and your whole family.”