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Obama Awards Biden Presidential Medal Of Freedom

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Washington, D.C., is not a place that welcomes surprises, but this afternoon, President Obama had a big surprise for his vice president.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction to my brother, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.

SIEGEL: At the White House ceremony, Obama said that he's awarding this medal, which is the nation's highest civilian honor, with an additional level of veneration. He told Biden, it was for your faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country and a lifetime of service that will endure through the generations. Through tears, Biden thanked Obama for his faith in him as a partner.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Mr. President, you have - you have more than kept your commitment to me by saying that you wanted me to help govern. President's line - often - other people don't hear it that often, but when someone said, can you get Joe to do such-and-such, he says, I don't do his schedule. He doesn't do mine. Every single thing you've asked me to do, Mr. President, you have trusted me to do, and that is a - that's a remarkable.

SIEGEL: Vice President Joe Biden this afternoon at the White House, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

BIDEN: And I want to thank you all so very, very, very much - all of you. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.