President Joe Biden and his family held a private memorial service Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of the car crash that killed his first wife and their daughter.
Biden, who was elected to the Senate in November 1972, was not in the car in December when his wife, Neelia, 30, and their 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, broadsided in a tractor-trailer.
That year, 18 of them went to buy a Christmas tree. The tragedy almost prompted Biden, who was 30 years old at the time of the accident, to give up his political career.
But on the advice of other senators, he remained in office, traveling from Washington to Delaware. Biden’s unabashed openness around grief and his ability to empathize with fellow Americans who have suffered loss have become defining characteristics of his political career.
Biden married Jill Jacobs in 1977. And they have a daughter named Ashley. The two women joined Hunter at St. Joseph of Brandywine Roman Catholic Church on Sunday, along with several of the president’s grandchildren.
After the service, the family carried two large wreaths and walked to the graves. Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46. He was also buried in the cemetery.