President Joe Biden honored former Vice President Walter Frederick “Fritz” Mondale as one of America’s “great giants” on Sunday during a deeply personal memorial speech in Minneapolis.
Mondale, who served as vice president under Democratic President Jimmy Carter, died aged 93 in April last year.
“There are two ways to spread light: be a candle or the mirror that reflects it. Fritz was both the candle and the mirror in my eyes,” Biden said at the memorial service at the University of Minnesota.
Throughout his address, the president recalled his decades-long friendship with Mondale as he urged the nation to follow the late Minnesotan’s example. “He was loved by the American people because he reflected the goodness of the American people,” Biden said.
In a particularly poignant moment, the president recalled the tragic car accident in which his then-wife Neilia Hunter Biden and daughter Naomi died, and explained how Mondale and his wife, the late Joan Mondale, were there for him. .
“They helped me find my purpose in a sea of darkness and pain,” Biden said.
Mondale had been Carter’s No. 2 between 1977 and 1981, but his only term as vice president ended when Ronald Reagan and his running mate, George HW Bush, defeated Carter and Mondale in 1980 – a defeat the Democrats would never do. not. recover until 1992, when Bill Clinton helped the party regain control of the White House.
Yet Mondale himself won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and helped make history by nominating U.S. Representative Geraldine A. Ferraro of New York as running mate – the first woman nominated to a presidential ticket. major American political party. Mondale ultimately lost to incumbent Reagan.
In an email to former staffers obtained by CNN at the time of his death, Mondale acknowledged in a moving message that his “time has come.”
“Before I go I wanted to let you know how much you mean to me. Never has a public servant had a better group of people working alongside them! Together we have achieved so much and I know you will continue the good fight Mondale wrote.
“Joe at the White House certainly helps,” he added in reference to the president. “I always knew it would be nice if I arrived somewhere and was greeted by one of you!”