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Viewing the video of Vice President Joe Biden's tears at being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and hearing his self-effacing comments took me back to the eve of President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration.

I was staying with my uncle, the late Utah Sen. Bob Bennett, who was the ranking Republican on the committee that oversaw all the inaugural activities.

Bob came home that night exhausted but exhilarated by his experience at a Washington soiree, events he often disliked. He had been invited to several dinners hosted by his party and other groups, but chose instead to attend Biden's.

Bob said he felt especially close to the just-elected Democratic vice president, dating back to their overlapping years in the Senate. Bob, a good-natured and faith-filled Mormon, found much kinship with Biden, an equally good-humored and faith-filled Catholic. Though they were on opposite sides of the partisan divide, the two had much in common.

At the dinner, Bob reported to me, Biden called the Utah senator out of the audience and said, "Here sits my friend and colleague Bob Bennett, a Republican. This is the kind of bipartisanship we hope to build in our administration."

That was Bob's hope, too, given his love of give-and-take politics — working together, hammering out compromises, getting things done.

My uncle was defeated in 2010 and the country spiraled into opposing camps, with giant gulfs between them, willing to do nothing rather than give an inch to an opponent.

To his dying day last spring, though, Uncle Bob considered Joe Biden a dear friend. Watching the video of him accepting the unexpected honor, I could see why.

Peggy Fletcher Stack

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