Delaware State Chamber of Commerce honors former Vice President with award, donation to Beau Biden Foundation

Following the announcement that he and his wife Jill were the recipients of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Josiah Marvel award, Joe Biden had one question.

“Where the hell’s my ice cream?” the former Vice President and Wilmington resident joked, referring to a portion of a memorial video that poked fun at his love for the frozen confection.

And although he was under the impression he was at the 181st annual DSCC dinner to deliver a keynote address, Biden was surprised with the award by DSCC president Rich Heffron.

“This wasn’t part of the deal,” Biden said.

After apologizing for his wife’s absence (she had classes to teach in the morning), a humbled Biden accepted the award, which was established in 1951, and honors a Delawarean who has made an outstanding contribution to the state, community or society.

“It’s a genuine honor to serve in Delaware for as long as I have,” Biden said.

He added that it’s an “enormous gift” for people to place their trust in someone over and over again.

Biden then paraphrased Irish poet James Joyce, who once said that when he dies, it will be Dublin with his heart.

“For me – my family, my Beau, Jill – when I die, Delaware will be with my heart,” a visibly moved Biden said. “It’s the most remarkable state to be a resident in.”

The Josiah Marvel Award is named in memory of the chamber’s first president in 1913-1914.


Originally from Scranton, Pa., Biden has a long political career that began in Delaware, starting as a member of New Castle County Council in 1969. He then won the US Senate seat in 1972, one of only 18 senators who took office before reaching 31.

Biden was reelected to the seat six times, the last in 2008, before vacating the position following his nomination as the 47th Vice President to Barack Obama.  

He unsuccessfully ran for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination, eventually withdrawing from the race following a series of public statements that found him accused of plagiarism and exaggeration.

Biden also served as a member of the US Senate Judiciary Committee from 1987 to 1995, and as chairman, presided over contentious confirmation hearings for two US Supreme Court nominees – Robert Bork in 1987, and Clarence Thomas in 1991.


During his keynote speech, Biden briefly reflected on his life and career, including a statement that President Obama would often attribute, and repeat, to Biden.

“Politics is personal … and that’s the Delaware way,” Biden noted.

He also spoke about a changing world economy and the increasing loss of domestic middle class due to job loss and industrial progress.

“And these are not reprehensible people; they’re legitimate people – black, white, Hispanic – that are worried about their futures,” he said.

Biden also urged people to reject two popular “isms” that have he said have come to receive much attention in recent years: nationalism and populism.

“This is a country built on ideals, that’s who we are,” he said. “That’s why we’ve been able to integrate so significantly – the most heterogeneous nation in the world.”

 In closing his speech, Biden decried a “broken political system” at the heart of many of the nation’s problems both past and present.

“More than any other nation in the world, we believe in possibilities,” Biden said. “Anything’s possible in America. And where has that gone?”

At the end of the event, Heffron presented Biden with a check for $36,000, made out to the Beau Biden Foundation, a nonprofit that states, “As adults, we have a legal and moral obligation to stand up and speak out for children who are being abused,” according to the website.