(Joe Biden with his son Beau, who, as a Major in the Delaware National Guard, served in the Iraq War. Beau Biden died of Brain Cancer at the age of 46, in 2015. )
**NOTE TO READER: As someone who worked with Mario Cuomo, I’ve drafted a speech for Joe Biden to deliver this week, on the things that are most important to remember. Just own it, Joe. Your brain and heart are full.**
Look. I’m old, and I sometimes forget things; but there are things that matter that I will never forget.
I know what it is to lose a child, a spouse, people you love; and I know how to comfort those who have also experienced such losses, and to carry on, because we must. Enormous personal loss, and grief and love and compassion are things that I can never, ever forget.
I know what it is to lose a family member in service to this nation, and I will never, ever forget their sacrifice, or the excruciatingly painful moment of their death, their family’s deep suffering, and the cruelty of anyone who calls these American heroes, “losers and suckers.”
I know what it is to fight for the rights of the disabled, or of those who are old, or frail, or Black or Brown, or fleeing torture from another land, or for someone who’s female, or gay, or poor, or struggling, or different in any way. I will never forget to fight for them.
I will never forget about Social Security or Medicare and how both programs pulled working families out of poverty, and I will never forget to keep fighting for those essential protections for my fellow 75 million Americans over the age of 60.
Social Security and Medicare are lifelines to those who weren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouths, or chauffeured to a ritzy private school in their mother’s pink Rolls Royce, as Donald Trump was, or inherited $400 million from their Daddy.
I will never forget about fighting for affordable health care for all—which out of sheer meanness Trump repeatedly tried to kill, and we fought to keep it alive.
I will never forget how hard we fought to prevent our families from being punished for having preexisting conditions, like AIDS or Cancer; nor how we battled relentlessly to bring drug prices down— down to $35 for a shot of insulin—despite vicious opposition from the dark money, anti-family interests behind Trump.
I will never, ever forget about Democracy at home, nor about the tiki-torch carrying MAGA monsters screaming “Jews will Not Replace Us,” marching to protect their symbols of segregation and hate. I will never forget their twisted faces full of hate, and I will never, ever stop fighting them and anyone who enables them.
I will never forget the deep scars and sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of Americans who fought to end Slavery—the direct cause of the last illegal American insurrection against our government—and their courageous fight for freedom, citizenship and voting rights. We stand on the strong shoulders of generations of those who endured daily horrors, and of those brave freedom fighters and soldiers of dignity and decency and democracy at home. I will never forget them, nor ever stop fighting for diversity, equality and inclusion in a country built on those bedrock principles.
I may, momentarily, forget the names of the President of Egypt or the President of Mexico, but I will never, ever forget—nor forgive– the terrible tyranny of Fascists like Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Putin.
I will NEVER forget the six million Jews, slaughtered by pure Nazi hatred, and the one million twinkling lights at Yad Vashem, commemorating the one million merciless deaths of Jewish Children at the hands of Fascists.
Donald Trump may love to repeat the pernicious, hate-mongering language of Adolf Hitler, and he may swoon over the smug, sinister swagger of Mussolini, and the scorched-earth, inhumane tactics of Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, but I will never forget the hundreds of thousands of US troops who died fighting Fascism, nor the millions of young children, women and innocent civilians slaughtered by these dictators, whom Trump admires.
And, I will never, ever forget NATO—and the life-saving, and democracy preserving sacrifices made by our Allies, who have stood with us, shoulder to shoulder, and kept the world free from global totalitarianism.
I helped strengthen NATO during my Presidency, while Donald Trump has already forgotten the lessons of the last World War—if he ever learned them—and has promised one of the world’s most vicious tyrants, Vladimir Putin, that he can do whatever he wants to NATO—destroying Democracy’s strongest alliance, and burning down the achievement of millions of free people—and the sacrifices of our sons and daughters, parents and grandparents. Donald Trump forgets all of that.
This April, NATO turns 75, stronger than ever, and no one in their right mind, thinks it’s too old to keep the world safe for Democracy.
This August, Social Security turns 89 years old, and no one with any understanding of the struggle of making ends meet—especially for those of us over the age of 65, not born into extreme wealth—think Social Security is too old to continue to put food on our tables. I’ll never forget, nor stop fighting to protect, these two pillars of our American families.
I may forget a few words here and there, but I’ll never forget about human rights, and human dignity and human freedom, and the human sacrifices made throughout many generations to get us to where we are today.
I’ll never forget about our children and our grandchildren, living in an increasingly fragile world threatened by random gun violence and environmental destruction.
Nor, can I ever forget or ignore the cries of the children of war, under unrelenting siege and bombardment in the Ukraine or in Gaza. These are all our children, and I will never forget them.
I may forget a few things, now and then, but I will never forget the tens of millions of women in our own country, robbed of the right to take control of their own bodies, and to make their own decisions about their health.
I’ll never forget who I am, and where I came from, nor my father’s sage advice that, “Joey, a job is more than a paycheck, it’s a source of human dignity.” That’s why, I am proud of having created 14.8 million jobs during my first term as President, more than any other President in US history during my first term.
I’ll never forget Franklin Roosevelt hoisting himself up from his wheelchair, so he could pull this country back on its’ feet, following the Great Depression. FDR’s powerful example of hope and tenacity drove me to help get this country back up and running again, following the high unemployment of the COVID Pandemic.
I have never forgotten that, and am especially proud that we’ve kept the national unemployment rate down under 4 percent for two straight years, while the Stock Market experienced its’ greatest gains in American History in the first two months of this year.
I’ll never forget how Donald Trump assured the nation in January, 2020, when the earliest cases of COVID were reported, that he had the virus “totally under control,” advising us that, “like a miracle” it would disappear, and forgetting basic high school science, he suggested injesting bleach to cure it.
How could anyone forget that brainless, heartless response to the Pandemic?
How could anyone forget the 400,000 preventable COVID deaths that occurred during Trump’s final year as President?
How could anyone forget that under Trump’s mismanagement, incompetency and dishonesty concerning the COVID Pandemic, life expectancy of Americans dropped to its lowest level since World War II? I may be 81 years old, but I can never forget that.
And, like many American, I can never forget that maybe if Trump had spent more time doing his job and less time playing golf, he wouldn’t have forgotten the oath he took as President to protect the American people.
How can any American forget that in the 1461 days of Trump’s presidency, he spent 307 days on golf courses, at a financial cost to American taxpayers of $144 million, and the personal cost to millions of Americans of their jobs, and, in many families their loved ones, because he forgot to do his job as president.
Nor can any of us ever forget that Trump spent 428 days—or nearly one-third of his presidency—visiting Trump organization-owned properties, and that, among all American Presidents, Trump came in first in taking in vacation days, and dead last in getting legislation enacted.
And, Americans know that if Donald Trump spent less time on tanning beds, less time layering on pancake make-up, and less time dying his hair orange, to pretend he’s young, he’d have had more time to spend on the people’s business.
And, who can ever forget that Trump, a bankrupt builder, proclaimed every other week to be “Infrastructure Week,” and did absolutely nothing about it, while during my first year in office, we enacted the biggest U.S. Infrastructure rebuilding program since the Great Depression—the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act.
Yes, I am a well-intentioned, elderly man, who sometimes forgets a name or a date, but I have never forgotten what matters most in life, what’s essential to the lives of Americans, and the lessons we learn from each other from life, love, disease, and death.
What I’ve learned from decades of experience in public service and from living 81 years on this precious planet, is that what matters most in this life is, as the great Catholic theologian Teihard de Chardin said, is “to be part of something bigger than ourselves.”
That’s something I can never forget, and it’s a lifelong lesson I learned from my working-class parents; from the good, solid people I grew up with in Scranton; from the patriotic men and women—including my son Beau–who went off to fight in our wars and protect our freedoms.
These are the lessons I’ve learned from life, from death, and from my faith. They are seared into every sinew of my being.
It’s those instructions in building lives of dignity, decency and fairness—and the daily inspirations of the working men and women struggling to live them– that can never, ever be forgotten.
God bless you, God bless our troops, and God Bless the United States of America.