Not everyone agrees with President Joe Biden’s public policies, but everyone can agree that his priority in life is being a family man. His duties as a grandfather were on full display on Tuesday at the memorial service for slain Capitol police officer William ‘Billy’ Evans. President Biden’s sweet moment with Billy’s seven-year-old daughter Abigail Evans broke the tension in an otherwise somber affair.
While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was delivering her remarks, Abigail’s Capitol dome-shaped toy tumbled to the floor. It was President Biden who scrambled over to pick up her toy and hand it back to the grieving youngster. Pelosi assessed the situation unfolding before her with a quick quip, “A greater compliment does no one have than the president of the United States looking after your toys.” Even though Biden’s gesture was small, it spoke volumes about his character and the empathy he felt for a family in mourning.
He knows the depths of grief after losing his first wife, Neilia Hunter Biden, and their one-year-old daughter, Naomi, in a 1972 car crash. Sons Hunter and Beau Biden would survive the crash, but Beau went on to lose his life to brain cancer in 2015 at age 46. As a dad and grandfather, he knows the emotional struggles Abigail and her family will have ahead of them, so the kind moment at the service was Biden’s way of comforting her. It’s hard not to choke up in thinking about how deep his emotions run when it comes to death in a family.
“For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide. I realized someone could go out — and I probably shouldn’t say this with the press here, but you’re more important — I realized how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide,” Biden said in his famous 2012 speech on grief to military families. “Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts. Because they’d been to the top of the mountain, and they just knew in their heart they’d never get there again, that it was never going to get — never going to be that way ever again.”
That moment Americans saw yesterday wasn’t just the president handing a toy to a young girl at an official ceremony — it was a dad and grandfather knowing that there is sadness — and also joy — ahead for Abigail. And he wanted to be there for her at that tender moment.
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