Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday shared the story of the loss of his wife and daughter during a conference focused on helping military families grieve for their loved ones.
Speaking at the event hosted by Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Mr. Biden recalled the day in 1972 when he learned that his wife and daughter had been killed in a car accident and his sons critically injured.
"I got a phone call just like you did," he told the families. "You just felt it in your bones that something bad happened."
He also recalled his anger when others would tell him they knew how he felt. "They didn't have any damned idea."
But with help from friends and family, things eventually got better, he said.
"There will come a day … [when] thoughts of your son or your daughter, or your husband or your wife, will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye," said Mr. Biden, who remarried in 1977.
Afterwards, he spoke to the children at the conference.
"They're in you for the rest of your life," he said. "And they're not going anywhere."
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also spoke at the conference, along with his wife, Deanie.
"Most Americans have not had the life-altering experience of being handed a folded flag," Gen. Dempsey said at the conference, which hosted about 2,000 adult and children survivors, mentors and volunteers.
"We promise you that we will never forget," he said.
According to TAPS, 6,458 U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, affecting an estimated 64,580 parents, spouses, siblings, children and grandparents.
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