An emotional moment transpired Wednesday when Vice President Joseph Biden made an unannounced stop at the campus memorial for victims of the April 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. The event was captured by the pool reporter on duty, to whom Biden hadn't been planning on offering remarks.
Your pooler asked what the memorial meant to him, prompting Biden to recall his own life's tragedy. VP paused repeatedly as he answered in an emotional, solemn fashion.
Biden staff initially tried to shoo the pool away when the queston was posed, but the vp wanted to answer.
"It means," he said, pausing. “I’ll tell you what it means. It means to me that – it reminds you how precious life is. And that – you know I think of those kids, but I also think of their parents. No child should predecease their parents. I remember what it’s like. [Pause] It brings back, [pause] It brings back memories. Whether it’s that call, out of the blue that you get, and it’s like how could this happen."
CBS producer Rodney Hawkins asked Biden about the recent shootings, prompting VP staff to again shoo the pool.
This event resonates with Biden for two reasons. The first relates to policy: curbing gun violence was his one of Biden's top legislative priorities in the Senate. The second, and more obvious, reason is personal. Biden lost his wife and young daughter in a car crash in December 1972, shortly before he joined the Senate. He has written and discussed the incident before, including in May of this year:
George W. Bush: Jan. 11, 2001:Nov. 5, 2008
Presidents may enter the office bright-eyed, but they tend to leave with a few more wrinkles and a lot more gray hairs. Compare a younger President George W. Bush, left, before the economic crisis, before Iraq and before Sept. 11, 2001, to Bush in early November.
Bill Clinton, family leave bill signing: Nov. 11, 2000
Scandal certainly takes a toll. Bill Clinton may have dallied with a younger woman, but that couldn't stop the aging process as he approached the end of his tenure, pictured here on the right.
Pres. George H. W. Bush
Maybe serving a single term isn't so bad. The elder George H. W. Bush looked pretty much the same early in his presidency, left, as he did later.
Ronald Reagan: Kan. 1981 in L.A.: posing in D.C.
Could it just be the Hollywood lighting? Ronald Reagan looked younger in a portrait taken in Los Angeles the month of his inauguration, left, than during his last months in office.
Jimmy Carter, Feb. 1977: Oct. 1, 1980
Like the elder George Bush, Jimmy Carter only served for four years. It appeared to weigh heavily on him. That furrowed brow late in his term, right, couldn't have been good for his complexion.
Gerald Ford. inauguration: conceding in 1976
Gerald Ford was the only U.S. president to never win an election, and is pictured here, on the left, at his inauguration. Is it a trick of the light, or did he really look a little beefier, and a little older, as he later conceded to Carter two years later?
Richard Nixon, Jan. 20, 1968: April 1974
Watergate clearly took its toll on Richard Nixon. He looked quite different at his inauguration, left, than he did in the midst of the scandal, six years later.
Lyndon B. Johnson (1st photo - Nov. 29, 1963)
Lyndon B. Johnson looks a little grayer and a little more wrinkled late in his administration, but he does appear to have lost a few pounds. Maybe there's a silver lining after all.
John F. Kennedy, 1961 and Jan. 24, 1963
John F. Kennedy appears to have a fuller face at the start of his presidency, as seen in this 1961 on the left. The second photo was taken in January 1963, 10 months before his assassination.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, March 1, 1953 and Nov. 1, 1960
There was no hair to lose for Dwight D. Eisenhower, as first seen in 1953, but his two terms in office aged the man, as evident in the photograph from 1960.
Harry Truman, 91/1945 and 1/1/1953
Harry S Truman took office with the death of President Roosevelt in 1945, and he described his sudden ascent as feeling "like the moon, the stars and all the planets had fallen on me." All that pressure can wear on a man, as seen in an aged Truman in 1953, shortly before he left office.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933 and Feb. 11, 1945
Franklin D. Roosevelt president over the nation as it struggled with the Great Depression and World War II. He served in office for a record four terms. It's not surprise then that he aged so much in office, as seen in 1933 and 1945. (Sources: AP, Getty, the Washington Post)