By Trevor Hunnicutt
NEW CASTLE, Del. (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Joe Biden became emotional during a brief farewell ceremony in Delaware on Tuesday before heading to Washington for his inauguration, choking back tears as he reflected on his long journey to the White House and remembered his son.
Biden thanked friends and family who had gathered to see him off at a National Guard center named after his son Beau - whose death from cancer in 2015 contributed to then-Vice President Biden's decision not to seek the White House in 2016.
"When I die, Delaware will be written on my heart," said Biden, his voice shaking with emotion.
"It's deeply personal that our next journey to Washington starts here, a place that defines the very best of who we are as Americans," he said. National Guard troops assist law enforcement and deal with domestic emergencies.
"I know these are dark times, but there is always light. That's what this state has taught me the most," said Biden.
Biden, who served Delaware as a senator for more than three decades and had run for president unsuccessfully two times before winning in November, said his one regret was that Beau, who served as attorney general in Delaware, was not there.
"We should be introducing him as president," Biden said, tears streaming down his face.
"Don't tell me things can't change. They can, and they do," Biden said. "I'm truly honored to be your next president and commander in chief."
After the ceremony, Biden flew to Washington to appear at a Lincoln Memorial remembrance for COVID-19 victims. He will spend the night at Blair House, the president's official guesthouse, before he is sworn in on Wednesday and moves into the White House.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Delaware; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Scott Malone and Rosalba O'Brien)