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Beau died in 2015 at age 46, and his death kept the president from running in 2016

January 20, 2021 07:53 PM
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As Joe Biden began his presidency on Wednesday, he kept memories of his family — including late son Beau Biden — close at hand.

In photographs of Biden, 78, in the Oval Office after his inauguration, several family photos can be seen arranged behind the Resolute Desk, including a 2009 shot of Beau, a former National Guardsman who died in 2015 at age 46 of brain cancer.

Another photo of Biden with incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden sat next to it.

On Tuesday, a day before the inauguration, the 46th president of the United States gave an emotional departure speech at the National Guard Reserve Center in Delaware named for his late son.

"I only have one regret, he's not here" Biden said of Beau. "Because we should be introducing him as president."

Though Beau wasn't at the inauguration, his memory certainly was.

On Tuesday, a sentimental detail was confirmed when Biden transition officials told reporters that one "Beau Biden" — Hunter Biden's now-8½-month-old son with wife Melissa Cohen — was among family members flying with the incoming president from Delaware to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration. The younger Beau was named after Hunter's late brother.

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At Wednesday's swearing-in, Hunter, 50, held the baby boy, whose coos could be heard during the nationally televised ceremony.

After Beau died in May 2015, the elder Biden decided he could not run for president in the 2016 election because he and his family were still in the throes of grief.

"Look, dealing with the loss of Beau, any parent listening who's lost a child, knows that you can't — it doesn't follow schedules of primaries and caucuses and contributors. Everybody grieves at a different pace," Biden said at the time.

biden inauguration parade
President Joe Biden walks down Pennsylvania Avenue with his family to the White House
| Credit: getty images

In January 2020, he said during a segment on MSNBC's Morning Joe that "Beau should be the one running for president, not me."

Beau was formerly the Delaware attorney general and a National Guardsman.

On Wednesday, with Beau's photo behind him, Biden began his term as president by signing several executive orders. Among those: a mandate requiring face masks on all federal property and during interstate travel, support for underserved communities and rejoining the Paris climate agreement.