An emotional President-elect Joe Biden said goodbye to his home state of Delaware Tuesday, one day before he will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
He spoke at a farewell event at the Major Joseph R. ‘Beau’ Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center, which is located on the New Castle Airport’s campus, breaking down in tears as he paid tribute to his late son, and saying that it was Beau who should be president.
‘Ladies and gentleman, I only have one regret, he’s not here because we should be introducing him as president,’ Biden told the crowd, filled with friends and family, including son Hunter and daughter Ashley.
‘But we have great opportunities, Delaware has taught us anything’s possible, anything’s possible in this country.’
Beau Biden had been Delaware’s attorney general and was long thought to hold higher political ambitions before being killed by brain cancer in 2015, aged just 46.
‘It’s deeply personal that our journey to Washington starts here,’ Biden said, speaking from a podium inscribed with his son’s name.
Biden flew from the New Castle Airport, just outside Wilmington, to Joint Base Andrews. He had originally hoped to take Amtrak – how he commuted back and forth between Washington and Wilmington for years as a U.S. senator – but the heightened security risk surrounding the inauguration killed off those plans.
The speech, some of it ad-libbed, praised his wife Jill, and ended with him saying: ‘I promised Jill not to be emotional.’
Moment of emotion: Joe Biden wept openly as he spoke at the National Guard/Reserve Center named for his son, Beau, who died in 2015. He said it should be Beau who should be leaving Delaware to be president
President-elect Joe Biden cried as he said goodbye to his home state of Delaware and when talking about his late son Beau
Incoming first lady Jill Biden (left) waves to the audience at a ceremony at the Major Joseph R. ‘Beau’ Biden III National Guard /Reserve Center at the New Castle Airport, before President-elect Joe Biden’s (right) inauguration
Incoming first lady Jill Biden (left) watches her husband speak alongside Hunter Biden (center) and baby Beau, named for his late brother
Family: Joe Biden paid tribute to his son Hunter (second left) and daughter Ashley. Hunter was with his second wife Melissa Cohen, and held their 11-month-old son Beau
Wave: Hunter Biden, 51, waves to another family member while his father speaks
Tearful: Biden was emotional throughout his speech in Delaware, thanking the state for being ‘a place of light and hope and limitless possibilities.’
National anthem: Jill Biden put her hand on her heart as her husband came on stage to the Star-Spangled Banner. She wore a purple coat and purple butterfly-patterned mask
Support: Joe Biden said ‘I told Jill I wouldn’t be emotional’ but he cried as he spoke about his late son Beau, and about his live of Delaware saying: ‘When I die Delaware will be written on my heart.’
Beau Biden was Delaware’s attorney general and expected to pursue higher political office, but died of cancer in 2015
In 2009, President-elect Barack Obama took a train from Philadelphia and picked up Biden, the vice president-elect in Wilmington, traveling to Washington, D.C.’s Union Station.
Biden recalled that day – and the symbolism of a was that a black man becoming president of the United States.
‘And here we are today – my family and I – about to return to Washington to meet a black woman, of south Asian descent, to be sworn in as president and vice president of the United States,’ Biden said, referring to his running mate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
‘As I told Beau on that station waiting for Barack – and Hunter and Ashley – I said don’t tell me things can’t change,’ Biden continued.
‘They can and they do.’
He said this hopeful mentality was thanks to Delaware, a state he said had given his parents work when they needed it – his family left Scranton, PA, when he was 10 – and had helped him heal from the loss of his first wife Neila and baby daughter Naomi in a car crash in 1972.
‘That’s America. That’s Delaware. A place of hope and light and limitless possibilities,’ Biden said.
He asked the audience to excuse his emotion as he talked about his adopted home state, one that gave his parents ‘a home and a livelihood when they needed it most.’
The Bidens arrive onstage at the Major Joseph R. ‘Beau’ Biden III National Guard / Reserve Center on Tuesday for a Delaware farewell event before flying to Washington, D.C.
President-elect Joe Biden (right) and incoming first lady Jill Biden (second from right) greet supporters at an event in Delaware Tuesday before they fly to Joint Base Andrews ahead of Wednesday’s inauguration ceremonies
Socially distanced: Guests – including Delaware Senator Chris Coons – were kept from crowding together with patriotic barriers
Scene outside: Supporters waved at Joe Biden as his motorcade made its way from his home in Wilmington for his speech
Security: Joe Biden is now at the center of a massive security operation led by the Secret Service
Travel: Biden had hoped to travel to Washington on Amtrak, which he had commuted on daily as a senator, and on which he traveled with Barack Obama in 2009, but the aftermath of the MAGA riot canceled that plan
On the apron: The first couple in waiting speak to the Air Force officers in charge of their flight to D.C.
Thanks: President-elect Joe Biden salutes an Air Force officer before he boards the flight to D.C.
Escort: Jill and Joe Biden speak to Air Force officers before boarding their flight to Joint Base Andrews
Slight limp: Joe Biden is still healing from fractured bones in his foot which he suffered last year playing with his younger dog, Major
Wheels up: The president-elect and first lady-in waiting board their flight to D.C.
Up in the air: The flight from New Castle Airport, just outside Wilmington, DE, to Washington D.C. is only a few minutes
What awaits: The intensifying security in Washington saw more fencing toppped with razor wire going up near the Capitol
JOE BIDEN’S INAUGURATION TIMETABLE
Leaves Wilmington, Delaware, with wife Jill for D.C.
5.30pm: Joins Kamala Harris at the Lincoln Memorial for COVID remembrance ceremony
Spends night at Blair House, the official guest house across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House
8.45amAttends mass at St. Matthew the Apostle Cathedral with leaders of the House and Senate
11am: Guests arrive on the steps of the Capitol for the inauguration
Ceremony will begin with an invocation by the Rev. Leo J. O’Donovan, a Jesuit priest who is a close friend of the Biden family.
Andrea Hall, the first African American female firefighter to become captain of the Fire Rescue Department in South Fulton, Georgia, will recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem.
Amanda Gorman, who became the country’s first Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, will read a poem she has written for the occasion called ‘The Hill We Climb.’
Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks also will perform.
Shortly after 12 p.m., Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath of office. Biden will take the oath with his 127-year-old, 5-inch-thick family Bible, which will be held by his wife, Jill.
Kamala Harris, the first woman, the first black and the first South Asian American vice president, will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina member of the Supreme Court.
Harris will be sworn in on two Bibles — one that belonged to a close family friend Regina Shelton who was like mother to her and another that belonged to Thurgood Marshall, one of her heroes.
Biden will then give his inaugural address.
After the swearing-in ceremony, Biden and Harris will take part in a Pass in Review with members of the military on the East Front of the Capitol.
Then, Biden, Harris and their spouses will then go to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Obamas, the Bushes and the Clintons will attend in a show of bipartisan unity.
The next stop is the White House where Joe and Jill Biden and Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff will view the virtual ‘Parade Across America,’ featuring performances from all 56 states and territories. It will be hosted by the actor Tony Goldwyn with appearances by Earth, Wind and Fire and former ‘Daily Show’ host Jon Stewart. It also includes 1,391 people (not counting the military escort), 90 horses and nine dogs.
Afternoon: Harris swears in the three new Democratic senators: Georgia election winners Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, and her replacement as California senator, Alex Padilla
New White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds first briefing
8pm: Primetime TV celebration hosted by Tom Hanks, Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington.
Performers include Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, John Legend, Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Ant Clemons, Tyler Hubbard, Tim McGraw, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Biden and Harris also will speak.
10am Biden joins virtual interfaith service at National Cathedral for 59th Inaugural National Prayer Service
And, he said, Delaware sent him as a ‘kid’ to the U.S. Senate.
Biden was elected at age 29 and sworn-in, as the Constitution permits, at age 30.
‘When I die, Delaware will be written on my heart and the hearts of all of the Bidens,’ he said.
‘We love you all, you’ve been there for us in the good and the bad, you never walked away,’ Biden continued.
‘And I am proud – proud, proud, proud to be a son of Delaware and I am even more proud to be standing here doing this from the Major Beau Biden facility.’
That’s when the president-elect wished his son would have been the Biden to make it to the White House.
Before his death, Beau Biden had encouraged his father to run for president in 2016, instead of letting Hillary Clinton become the heir to President Barack Obama’s legacy.
After Beau Biden died, Joe Biden sat out the 2016 race, which saw Clinton lose to Republican President Donald Trump.
Biden decided to run for president in 2020 after watching Trump handle the racial violence in Charlottesville in 2017.
Biden was introduced by Delaware’s Democratic Gov. John Carney, who said the president-elect was ‘born for this moment.’
‘I have one particular feeling that’s hard to describe and it’s one that so many Americans haven’t felt for so long,’ Carney said, explaining that that feeling was ‘hope.’
Carney also spoke of Beau Biden’s death, calling him Joe Biden’s ‘pride and joy.’ ‘And Delaware’s as well,’ Carney said.
‘He has picked himself up and brought us along with him,’ Carney said of the incoming president. ‘Now he stands ready to pull the country out of this morass out of the chaos and onto higher ground.’
At Wednesday’s swearing-in ceremony, Biden’s inaugural address will center on unifying the country in the post-Trump era.
Biden is expected to speak for between 20 and 30 minutes.
When Biden lands in Washington, he’ll arrive at a city filled with National Guard troops and military checkpoints, as the main downtown arteries and Capitol Hill are all blocked off on the heels of the January 6 insurrection attempt.
The National Mall, which usually hosts major crowd for the swearing-in, has been blocked off to the public, with a flag display taking the place of humans.
Biden will be joined by Harris for a 5:30 p.m. event at the Lincoln Memorial’s Reflection Pool to honor the lives lost in the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. hit the dismal mark of 400,000 deaths from COVID-19.
Biden and Harris’ inauguration was always going to have a smaller human footprint because they’ve been strict about COVID-19 protocols.
But the MAGA mob’s siege made security even tighter.
While President Obama sent President-elect Trump an Air Force One-type jet for his family’s Washington arrival, Biden took a white and gray charter jet – a Boeing BBJ, based on the Boeing 737 – between Delaware and D.C.
Trump will fly to West Palm Beach, Florida Wednesday and arrive there before noon, so he can fly onboard ‘Air Force One’ one final time.
The Air Force One label applies to the president’s plane, no matter what make or model.