President Obama visits Pearl Harbor memorial

President Barack Obama lays a wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor on December 29, 2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Story highlights

  • This month marks the 70th anniversary of the attack
  • More than 2,300 lives were lost in the surprise attack by Japan
  • Every president since FDR has visited the memorial
President Barack Obama has now done what every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has done -- visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
Accompanied by his wife, Obama Thursday marked this year's 70th anniversary of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attacks by laying a wreath inside the memorial and scattering white, yellow and purple flower petals in the water above the wrecked ship.
Sporting a dark suit -- attire Obama frequently wears in Washington but something that has not been seen on his current vacation -- the president observed a moment of silence while in the shrine room of the memorial.
The president made no remarks while at the memorial, however, he marked the anniversary earlier in the month by releasing a statement that said, "we salute the veterans and survivors of Pearl Harbor who inspire us still. Despite overwhelming odds, they fought back heroically, inspiring our nation and putting us on the path to victory."
Adm. Robert Willard, Navy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, along with Donna Willard, the admiral's wife, also accompanied the first family at the memorial.
Dedicated in 1962, the memorial sits above the sunken USS Arizona and commemorates the over 2,300 lives lost when Japan launched a surprise attack on the Navy base. That attack propelled U.S. military involvement in World War II and triggered the county's involvement in what came to be known as the Pacific theater.
The stop was part of the Obama's larger Christmas vacation in Hawaii. Born in the Aloha state, the president has made Hawaii a regular vacation destination for his family while in office.
This was not the president's first visit to the memorial; as president-elect Obama visited the memorial in late 2008.