President Donald Trump this weekend kicks off his inaugural visit to Asia, but he first stopped in Hawaii on Friday to visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and to receive a briefing from U.S. Pacific Command.
The president and first lady Melania Trump participated in a wreath laying ceremony inside the USS Arizona Memorial in honor of the more than 2,400 Americans who died in the attack by Japan. In a somber moment, the two then tossed white flower petals onto the sunken USS Arizona, and stood back to view the underwater battleship as the petals drifted away. They were accompanied by U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Harris.
This was the president’s first visit to Pearl Harbor — something he described during the U.S. Pacific Command briefing as something he’s “read about, spoken about, heard about, studied, but I haven’t seen,” adding the visit “is going to be very exciting for me.”
At the White House in July, the president honored a group of three World War II veterans who survived the attack on the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor.
“For these three World War II veterans, Dec. 7, 1941, the brutal attack on Pearl Harbor, is forever seared into their memories. It’s also seared into America’s memory because on that grim day this mighty nation was roused to defend freedom itself,” Trump said at the time.
The stop precedes his inaugural visit to Asia, a 13-day, five-country tour to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Trump said Friday he would be staying an extra day in the Philippines, a last-minute addition confirmed by the White House press secretary.
The president later explained to reporters on Air Force one he would be spending one more day to attend the East Asia Summit because it’s “actually the most important day.”
It is a high-stakes trip that will focus heavily on the nuclear standoff with North Korea, with the White House warning that Trump will not moderate his freewheeling rhetoric.
Asked if Trump will threaten North Korea with “fire and fury” in the region, national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said, “The president will use whatever language he wants to use.”
“Well, I don’t think the president really modulates his language,” McMaster said Thursday. “Have you noticed him do that? He’s been very clear about it.”