NEW YORK — The rules change when a sitting Vice President is one of the honorees. The crowd had to walk through metal detectors, past bomb-sniffing German shepherds and in front of Secret Service agents in bullet-proof vests to attend the 75th anniversary of the Father of the Year awards at the Marriott Marquis hotel here Tuesday.
Joe Biden joined former New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath and Hudson’s Bay Co. chief executive officer Jerry Storch as honorees at the event, which raised just under $1 million for Save the Children.
The charity’s president, Mark Shriver, who also served as emcee, found himself having to ad lib to fill time since Biden was late in arriving. He cajoled Namath into joining him at the microphone to talk about his career path and who might be the Jets quarterback next season.
Eventually Biden arrived — he had to attend a National Security Council meeting in Washington, D.C., to discuss the shooting in Orlando.
Biden’s daughter, Ashley, presented her father with the award, delivering a heartfelt speech that had the crowd misting up with emotion. “My father always taught us to show up for the people you love and show up for life.” She recited the lyrics of Celine Dion’s “Because You Love Me” before handing her dad his trophy.
“That’s not fair,” Biden said, wiping tears from his face.
He went on to talk about his own father, who “taught by example. He never explained and he never complained.” Biden attempted to do the same when he became a father. He said when he was a young senator in 1978, he missed 15 percent of the votes in Congress because he chose to spend time with his family instead of being in Washington. “If I have to choose between going to a parent-teacher meeting and a vote that didn’t mean anything,” his family won out every time, Biden said.
That same sentiment was expressed by the other honorees at the lunch.
“I’m grateful to have my children and to still be here to get this recognition,” Namath said of his two daughters and three, soon-to-be-four, grandchildren. He was especially humbled to be in the company of the Vice President. “It’s a great honor and pleasure. I have such respect for what our people do for our country. If he couldn’t come today, we’d understand that somebody else needed him.”
Storch talked about the “work-life balance” that is so essential in order to raise children who know they have been loved unconditionally and can grow up to be independent adults. Major Sgt. Christopher Irving, a retired Air Force veteran and the recipient of the Ashok Sani “All-Star” Dad award, agreed, saying: “I hope you have balance. Because if you don’t, then what’s your legacy?”