President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Tuesday marked the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor with a somber visit to the World War II Memorial in the nation’s capital.
The Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor and other locations in Hawaii killed 2,403 service members and civilians and was a defining moment that led to U.S. entry into World War II.
Joe Biden touched a wreath and saluted. The wreath contained a wild sunflower, the state flower of Kansas, in honor of former Sen. Bob Dole, a war veteran who was a driving force in getting the memorial built on the National Mall and who died Sunday at age 98.
The first lady laid a bouquet of flowers at the base of the memorial below the New Jersey pillar and softly touched a wall, where she and the president spent a moment. The bouquet was in honor of her father, Donald Jacobs, who served as a U.S. Navy signalman in the war, the White House said.
The Bidens then paused at the Pacific arch on the southern side of the memorial plaza for one last moment of reflection before departing.
Joe Biden, in a White House proclamation issued last week to recognize National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, gave “thanks to the Greatest Generation, who guided our Nation through some of our darkest moments and laid the foundations of an international system that has transformed former adversaries into allies.”
Biden made the Tuesday morning visit just hours before he was to hold a highly anticipated video conference call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Biden is expected to use the call to express concern about Russia’s troop buildup near its borders with neighboring Ukraine and to make clear to Putin that an invasion would lead to economy-jarring sanctions against Russia.