Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by daughter-in-law Kathleen and his granddaughter Naomi, recently visited Pearl Harbor to pay his respects at the USS Arizona Memorial – a 184-foot structure that rests atop the midsection of the sunken World War Two battleship. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona, one of 21 battleships attacked on December 7th, 1941, is the final resting place for 1,177 American crewmen. It represents the greatest loss of life on any ship that day and about half of the total number of Americans killed in the attack.
The Vice President and his family visited the memorial at sunset, and were given a tour by Admiral Robert Willard, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command and Admiral Patrick Walsh, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The Vice President had the opportunity to personally reflect on the overwhelming loss of life in the memorial’s sanctuary, where 1,177 names of the fallen are etched in marble on the wall. Admiral Walsh noted that survivors of the attack have the right to again join their brothers in arms by designating that their final resting place be with their shipmates interred beneath the sea in the USS Arizona.
The true impact that the tragedy had on individual families hit home after the Bidens observed how many last names were listed multiple times on the wall of the sanctuary. As Admiral Walsh explained, many sets of immediate family members were assigned to the USS Arizona – a common naval practice at the time – including 36 sets of siblings and one father-son pair.
After laying a wreath at the foot of the wall, the Vice President and his family silently sprinkled flower petals into the sea – a symbolic tribute to all those lost in the attack.
For a glimpse into the Vice President’s visit to the USS Arizona memorial, watch here:
Amy Dudley is Deputy Press Secretary for the Vice President.