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RIP, Jean Finnegan Biden

In a statement this afternoon, Vice President Biden announces that his mother, Catherine Eugenia "Jean" Finnegan Biden, "passed away peacefully" today at her home in Wilmington today, "surrounded by her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and many loved ones."

At 92, she was the center of our family and taught all of her children that family is to be treasured, loyalty is paramount and faith will guide you through the tough times. She believed in us, and because of that, we believed in ourselves. Together with my father, her husband of 61 years who passed away in 2002, we learned the dignity of hard work and that you are defined by your sense of honor. Her strength, which was immeasurable, will live on in all of us."

During his campaign for vice president, which I covered full time as a reporter for NBC, Biden spoke of his mother at almost every event. The whole Biden family is very close, and even after becoming vice president, Biden traveled home to Wilmington often to be with her, since she did not want to move to Washington.

He also spoke movingly of the role she played in his life as he accepted the nomination for VP in Denver:

I wish that my dad was here tonight, but I am so grateful that my mom, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden, is here. You know, she taught her children -- all the children who flocked to our house-that you are defined by your sense of honor, and you are redeemed by your loyalty. She believes bravery lives in every heart and her expectation is that it will be summoned.

Failure at some point in everyone's life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable. As a child I stuttered, and she lovingly told me it was because I was so bright I couldn't get the thoughts out quickly enough. When I was not as well dressed as others, she told me how handsome she thought I was. When I got knocked down by guys bigger than me, she sent me back out and demanded that I bloody their nose so I could walk down that street the next day.

After the accident, she told me, "Joey, God sends no cross you cannot bear." And when I triumphed, she was quick to remind me it was because of others.

My mother's creed is the American creed: No one is better than you. You are everyone's equal, and everyone is equal to you.

My parents taught us to live our faith, and treasure our family. We learned the dignity of work, and we were told that anyone can make it if they try.

That was America's promise. For those of us who grew up in middle-class neighborhoods like Scranton and Wilmington, that was the American dream and we knew it.