Barack Obama just surprised an emotional Joe Biden with a Presidential Medal of Freedom

Getty Images

President Barack Obama surprised Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday with a Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction — the highest civilian honor — bringing Biden to tears.

Obama presented Biden with the medal at a ceremony meant to honor the outgoing vice president, who in eight days will become an everyday citizen and not an elected federal official for the first time since 1973.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction is an honor few have received. Past recipients of the award include former Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Biden was so surprised and touched by the award that he needed a moment to turn and face the wall behind the podium to compose himself before the medal could be placed around his neck.

"One of the greatest gifts of these past eight years is that we're forever bonded as a family," Obama told Biden before awarding him the medal.

"This honor isn't only well beyond what I deserve, but it's a reflection on the extent and generosity of your spirit," Biden said. "I don't deserve this, but I know it came from the president's heart."

Watch the full ceremony here:

Source: PBS NewsHour/YouTube