Devastating news: Vice President Joe Biden’s oldest child, Beau Biden, passed away of brain cancer today. He was only 46 years old but already had an accomplished career, including service as Delaware attorney general. He was seen as a likely future governor or senator. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
Beau Biden spent quite a bit of time in Iowa supporting his father’s presidential campaign in 2007. I only met him once, at a house party in West Des Moines, where he came across as down to earth and sincerely interested in talking politics with a bunch of strangers. I heard nothing but good things about Beau from my many friends and acquaintances who encountered him on the campaign trail. Many Iowans have been sharing their memories on social media this evening. I hope some members of the Bleeding Heartland community will tell their own stories in this thread.
After the jump I’ve posted the Biden family’s statement and a video of an incredible speech the vice president delivered in 2012 to an audience of grieving military families. He shared his experiences after the car accident that killed his wife and baby daughter and injured his sons Beau and Hunter, then told the bereaved listeners,
“There will come a day, I promise you, when the thought of your son or daughter or your husband or wife brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. It will happen. It will happen. My prayer for you is that day will come sooner or later. […] I’m telling you it will come.”
It’s heartbreaking for any parent to suffer the loss of a child. I can’t believe Joe Biden has to live through this nightmare a second time. But as Michael Grunwald observed, “When you think of what Joe Biden’s endured and what he’s like, he seems to get something right about life that most of us don’t.”
This post is also an open thread: all topics welcome.
Statement from Vice President Joe Biden:
“It is with broken hearts that Hallie, Hunter, Ashley, Jill and I announce the passing of our husband, brother and son, Beau, after he battled brain cancer with the same integrity, courage and strength he demonstrated every day of his life,” reads the statement from Vice President Biden.
“The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words. We know that Beau’s spirit will live on in all of us-especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children, Natalie and Hunter.
“Beau’s life was defined by service to others. As a young lawyer, he worked to establish the rule of law in war-torn Kosovo. A major in the Delaware National Guard, he was an Iraq War veteran and was awarded the Bronze Star. As Delaware’s Attorney General, he fought for the powerless and made it his mission to protect children from abuse.
“More than his professional accomplishments, Beau measured himself as a husband, father, son and brother. His absolute honor made him a role model for our family. Beau embodied my father’s saying that a parent knows success when his child turns out better than he did.
“In the words of the Biden family: Beau Biden was, quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known.”
Speech Vice President Biden delivered in 2012 to families who had lost a loved one in military service:
UPDATE: The Des Moines Register’s Linh Ta collected memories of Beau Biden from many Iowa Democrats. Encourage you to click through and read the whole piece, but here are some excerpts:
Ellen Goodmann Miller said she cried when she heard about Biden. Goodmann Miller, of Dubuque, was field director for the Biden campaign in 2007. The Bidens were family friends and she’s known the Bidens since she was young.
The loss of Beau Biden, she said, is “unfathomable.”
“He was graceful and gentle and very kind, and I feel like that made him a more powerful speaker and strong politician,” Goodmann Miller said. “He was a lot like his dad in that he always engaged every individual that had questions or concerns and would take time to speak to people one-on-one.” […]
Amid his political career, Biden also served in Iraq between 2008-09. In Baghdad, Jim Mowrer, vice chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, worked as a civilian contractor and intelligence analyst, while Biden served as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard and was a major in the Judge Advocate General Corps.
The pair spent six months together at Camp Victory in Iraq, eating meals, watching movies and occasionally watching Biden’s father on political TV programming. […]
Former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin said in a statement that he has known the Biden brothers, Beau and Hunter, for many years.
“There is no doubt that Beau was destined to be a great political leader,” Harkin said. “Ruth and I extend our sympathies to the entire Biden family.”