Speaking to family, friends, colleagues and officials before boarding a flight to the nation's capital, Biden said that "I'm truly honored to be your next president and commander in chief, and I'll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware."
Taking some liberties with a line from the famed Irish poet James Joyce, an emotional Biden said that "when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart."
Biden, who moved to Delaware as a child, represented the state for nearly four decades in the U.S. Senate before becoming vice president. He and his wife, Jill, moved back to Delaware in 2017, at the end of the Obama administration.
Biden spoke at the Major Joseph R. "Beau" Biden National Guard Reserve Center in New Castle, Del. The military facility is named after the president-elect's first child, the late Beau Biden. The younger Biden, who was Delaware's attorney general and served as a major in the state's Army National Guard and was deployed to the War in Iraq, died of brain cancer in 2015.
"It's deeply personal that our next journey to Washington starts here," the president-elect said.
In 2016, the then-vice president seriously considered a run for the presidency, but his personal anguish following the death of his eldest son was a major reason why he ultimately did not launch a campaign.
On Tuesday, Biden said he was "proud to be standing here doing this from the Major Beau Biden facility. Ladies and gentlemen, I only have one regret that he's not here, because we should be introducing him as president."
Biden also looked back a dozen years, to his inauguration as vice president under President Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president.
"Twelve years ago I was waiting at the train station in Wilmington for a Black man to pick me up on our way to Washington where we were sworn in as president and vice president of the United States of America," Biden recollected.
Biden then pointed to his 2020 running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, who on Wednesday will be inaugurated as the nation's first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president. "Here we are today, my family and I, about to return to Washington to meet a Black woman of South Asian descent to be sworn in as president and vice president of the United States."
"Don't tell me things can't change. They can and they do. That’s America and that’s Delaware," he emphasized. "We have great opportunities and Delaware’s taught us anything's possible ... in this country."
Biden and Harris will be inaugurated on Wednesday at noon ET at the west front of the U.S. Capitol.