"I do not expect nor do I want any of you to miss or sacrifice important family obligations for work," reads the letter

By Virginia Chamlee
November 13, 2020 01:11 PM
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President-elect Joe Biden
| Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty

Six years after it was first sent, a memo written by then-Vice President Joe Biden to his staff is recirculating. In the memo, Biden urges staffers not to sacrifice family time for work, which he wrote would "disappoint [him] greatly."

"I would like to take a moment and make something clear to everyone. I do not expect nor do I want any of you to miss or sacrifice important family obligations for work," reads the letter, dated Nov. 7, 2014. "Family obligations include but are not limited to family birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, any religious ceremonies such as first communions and bar mitzvahs, graduations, and times of need such as illness or loss in the family. This is very important to me."

"In fact, I will go so far as to say that if I find out you are working with me while missing important family responsibilities, it will disappoint me greatly," the letter continues. "This has been an unwritten rule since my days in the Senate."

Family is an integral part of Biden's life, and he has faced a number of personal tragedies.

In 1972, the now 77-year-old lost his first wife Neilia and their 13-month old daughter Naomi in a car accident. The wreck, which injured his sons Beau and Hunter as well, occurred after he had been elected the youngest-ever senator, but before he was sworn in.

Tragedy struck again in May 2015, when he lost his son, Beau, to brain cancer. 

Beau's death impacted his father's political path, with Biden ultimately deciding not to run for president in the 2016 election because he and his family remained in the throes of grief.

Perhaps because of those tremendous losses, Biden has been known to prioritize family time.

In 2019, he skipped a campaign visit to Iowa in favor of celebrating his granddaughter's graduation and daughter's birthday.

“One of my competitors criticized me for not going to Iowa to talk for 5 minutes," he said in defending his decision to skip the event, according to The Hill. "My granddaughter was graduating. It was my daughter’s birthday. I would skip inauguration for that." 

He later addressed his absence to an Iowa audience, saying in prepared remarks: "I guess some folks were surprised I made that choice, but I don't know why. There are some things more important than running for president — and my daughter and granddaughter are two of them. So I'll make the same decision every time."

Biden was officially projected the winner of the 2020 presidential race last Saturday. President Donald Trump, 74, has so far not conceded defeat to Biden.