WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President Joe Biden marked the eighth anniversary of one of the saddest days of his life, the death of his son Beau, on Tuesday by attending a memorial mass and visiting his grave.
Biden, his wife, Jill, and other family members prayed for Beau Biden during mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine, the Roman Catholic church where the president worships on weekends at his home near Wilmington, Delaware.
Next, the family visited Beau Biden’s grave in the churchyard. The first lady carried a bouquet of flowers. The President then traveled to Veterans Memorial Park in New Castle for his annual tradition of paying tribute and laying flowers.
Beau Biden was 46 when he died of brain cancer in 2015. His father was vice president.
The eldest of Biden’s three children, Beau Biden served two terms as Delaware attorney general before declaring his candidacy for governor. Many saw in him the same aspirations that brought his father to the White House. In fact, Joe Biden often says his son is the one who should have been president — not him.
Beau Biden also served in the Delaware Army National Guard, including a deployment to Iraq, where the president says he was exposed to poison gas from pits where the military burned garbage. Biden linked his son’s cancer to his exposure to fireplaces.
Beau Biden is the son of Joe Biden and his late first wife, Neilia, who was killed in a 1972 car accident that seriously injured Beau and his younger brother Hunter and killed their baby sister.
Beau Biden’s daughter, Natalie, graduated from high school on Sunday, with her grandparents in the audience. She will be attending her father’s alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, in the fall.
While Beau Biden’s remembrance of Tuesday was private, the president publicly mourned his son Monday during a Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., just outside Washington.
For Biden, his son’s death and the annual holiday honoring Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving the United States in uniform are inextricably linked.
He told the public that on Tuesday “it’s been eight years since we lost our son Beau.”
“Like so many of you, the pain of his loss is with us every day, but especially keen on Memorial Day. It’s always clear,” Biden said Monday. “Tomorrow is his birthday. But so does the pride Jill and I feel in his service, like I can still hear him say, “Daddy, it’s my duty, Daddy.” It is my duty.’ Duty.”
This story has been corrected to show that Arlington National Cemetery is in Arlington, Virginia, not Washington.