Mourners Pay Respects to Beau Biden in Delaware

by Halimah Abdullah /  / Updated 

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Those who came to mourn former Attorney General Beau Biden arrived by the busload.

Hundreds of people stood in a line so long it snaked around the first floor of the Delaware State Capitol, out the building’s west entrance, toward Legislative Avenue, then wrapped around the corner on to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard South, where it ended about halfway down the block between Legislative Avenue and Federal Street.

The Biden family shook hands and smiled sadly as the mourners filed past a flag-draped casket and bouquets of white flowers on Thursday.

Biden, the oldest son of Vice President Joe Biden, died last weekend of terminal brain cancer. He was 46.

He was laid in honor on Thursday at Legislative Hall during an, at times, emotional ceremony, following a processional from Wilmington to Dover.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power joined a wave of mourners largely comprised of local officials.

The vice president appeared clearly moved that the governor had come to pay his respects. Biden embraced Cuomo and, at one point, the vice president clasped Cuomo's face then put his arms on his shoulders.

Power followed directly behind Cuomo and embraced the vice president.

Image: Beau Biden
An honor guard carries a casket containing the remains of former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden as members of the Biden family, left, look on, Thursday, June 4, 2015, before a viewing at Legislative Hall in Dover, Del.Patrick Semansky / AP file

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell spoke about the work Beau Biden did in the Delaware State Capitol.

"The children of Delaware are safer for generations to come," Markell said adding that Beau "lived a life that is a model for us all."

When Markell call Biden a model husband, father and son the vice president teared up.

"Your dad beamed with pride and love for you," Markell said. "His attachment to his parents is now a part of history."

"Never has a son's love been so genuine and so deep."

Markell went on to say that the Biden family "is Delaware's family," and that Beau "is a model for what a public servant should be."

"He cared deeply about the people of Delaware … We the people of Delaware loved Beau, if possible, even more."

"To the Biden family we cannot begin to understand the depths of your loss. Know that we grieve with you," Markell concluded as the vice president looked toward the ceiling.

Speaker of the House Peter Schwartzkopf, on the verge of tears, expressed similar sentiments.

He told a story about how one day Beau Biden dropped by Schwartzkopf's home just to tell his friend "I just wanted to come and give you a hug."

"He said 'you're my friend, I miss ya. I don't get to see you that much.' That's the Beau that I knew," Schwartzkopf said. "That's the Beau that Carol and I love. And that's the Beau that we will miss. And we will always remember. Sleep well Beau."

The Conspicuous Service Cross was posthumously presented to Beau Biden who served in the Delaware National Guard for nearly 12 years, starting in 2003. The cross is awarded for heroism, meritorious service and outstanding achievement and is the highest award the state of Delaware can present, according to the vice president's office.

Thursday's services are the first in a series of public commemorations, which include a viewing at St. Anthony of Padua church in Wilmington on Friday and a Saturday funeral Mass at which President Barack Obama will deliver a eulogy.

"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," Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday.

Beau Biden was hospitalized earlier this month at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He died Saturday evening surrounded by his family, the vice president's office said.

Biden was diagnosed with brain cancer in August of 2013, and he underwent successful surgery and chemotherapy treatment. This spring, he suffered a recurrence and sought treatment, the vice president's office said.

"Beau embodied my father's saying that a parent knows success when his child turns out better than he did," the vice president said. "In the words of the Biden family: Beau Biden was, quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known."

Biden was attorney general of Delaware from 2007 to 2015. He joined the Delaware Army National Guard in 2003, where he served as a major and was awarded the Bronze Star. He served one year in Iraq, from 2008 to 2009, on deployment with the Guard.

RELATED: Grief From Both Sides of the Aisle After Beau Biden Dies

Last year, Biden declined to seek a third term as attorney general and said he planned to run for governor in 2016. Biden was most recently with the law firm Grant & Eisenhofer.

Condolences poured in from both sides of the aisle after Biden’s death was announced. President Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and Dick Cheney's daughter Liz were among those who offered their sympathies to the Biden family, while others shared their own memories of what Beau Biden had meant to them.

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