Follow Us

President Biden mourns late son Beau at Memorial Day ceremony, a day before anniversary of passing

Beau Biden, who served in the Iraq War, died of brain cancer in 2015.

May 29, 2023 7:33pm

Updated: May 29, 2023 7:33pm

President Joe Biden mourned his late son Beau at the Memorial Day ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, noting that Tuesday will be the eighth anniversary of his passing. 

Beau, Biden’s eldest son, died of brain cancer in 2015 at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He served in the Iraq War as a major in the Delaware Army National Guard. 

Biden has often said that Beau’s cancer was caused by "burn pits" in Iraq, leading him to sign the PACT Act to expand health care benefits for veterans exposed to deadly toxins. 

"We must never forget the price that was paid to protect our democracy," Biden said Monday. "Must never forget the lives these flags, flowers and marble markers represent. A mother or a father, a son or a daughter, a sister, a spouse, a friend, an American. Every year we remember and every year it never gets easier." 

Biden also said he empathized with Gold Star families. 

"To all those here and across the nation who are grieving, loss of a loved one who wore the uniform, our Gold Star families, for all those with loved ones still missing, unaccounted for: I know how painful it can be, how it can reopen that … rip open that black hole in the center of your chest," Biden said. "You feel like you're just sinking in. The hurt is still real. It's still raw. 

"Tomorrow marks eight years since we lost our son, Beau," he continued. "Our loss, we are not the same. He didn't perish on the battlefield. It was cancer that stole him from us a year after he deployed as a major in the United States Army National Guard in Iraq. As it is for so many of you, the pain of loss is with us every day, but particularly sharp on Memorial Day. 

"Still clear – tomorrow's his anniversary – so is the pride Jill and I feel in his service," Biden said. "It's why I can still hear him saying, ‘Dad, it’s my duty, Dad. It's my duty.' Duty. That was the code my son lived by and all those you lost live by. It's the creed that millions of service members have followed." 

Biden also entreated Americans to "reflect, to remember, but above all to recommit to the future our fallen heroes fought for." 

"This is more important than just our system of government," Biden added. "It's the very soul of America, a soul that was forged by our nation's first patriots. A soul that triumphed over trials and testing less than a century later. A soul that endured because of the sacrifice of generations and generations of service members ever since. Together, we're not just the fortunate inheritors of their legacy. We must be the keeper of their mission, the bearers of the flame of freedom that kept burning bright for nearly 241 years." 

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook

Just the News Spotlight