DOVER, Del. (AP) — Delaware residents gathered at the state Capitol on Thursday to pay their respects to former Attorney General Beau Biden.
Biden, eldest son of Vice President Joe Biden, died of brain cancer Saturday at age 46.
Beau Biden lay in honor in the state Senate chamber following a procession from Wilmington to Dover. Behind his flag-draped casket was a Senate dais draped with black bunting and decorated with white flowers. The casket was flanked by a black-and-white photo of Biden with his wife and children and a Conspicuous Service Cross, presented to him posthumously Thursday for his service in the Delaware National Guard.
Gov. Jack Markell led the tributes for Biden in a 25-minute service attended by state officials, lawmakers and other dignitaries. Beau Biden’s son, Hunter, and daughter, Natalie, clung to their mother, Hallie, and grandmother, Jill Biden, during the service.
The Biden family, led by Joe Biden, then stood in a receiving line, warmly greeting well-wishers with hugs and handshakes, punctuated by both smiles and tears, as recorded harp music played softly in the background.
The doors were then opened to members of the public gathered at Legislative Hall, the Capitol.
“Beau made Delaware a better place for us all,” said Markell, describing Biden as a dedicated public servant and a model husband and father.
Col. Ed Brandt, a Delaware National Guard chaplain, said Biden’s life was marked by many accomplishments between “bookends of tragedy.”
Biden was 3 years old when he and his younger brother, also named Hunter, were injured in a 1972 car crash that killed their mother and infant sister. The crash occurred just weeks after Joe Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate. Beau Biden’s life and political career were cut short by cancer, which first appeared in the form of a lesion discovered by doctors in 2013, three years after he had suffered a minor stroke.
“In my eyes, he proved to be a public servant, not a politician,” said former Delaware Chief Justice Myron Steele, who twice gave Biden the oath of office for attorney general.
President Barack Obama will deliver a eulogy Saturday at Biden’s funeral in Wilmington.
By early Thursday evening, the vice president and his family were back in Washington to attend the middle school graduation of Maisy Biden, Hunter Biden’s daughter. President Barack Obama and the first lady joined the Bidens for the ceremony at Sidwell Friends School, where Obama’s daughter Sasha was also graduating from middle school.
The White House said Hunter Biden, Joe Biden and Jill Biden were all attending the graduation.