‘Aloha also means goodbye’: Trump lands in Hawaii to cheers and protests ahead of Asia trip

President Trump on Friday kicked off a nearly two-week Asia trip with a stop in Hawaii, visiting military and historic sites amid protests and growing concern over security threats in the state and U.S. Pacific territories.

The president, who was visiting Hawaii for the first time since his inauguration, appeared at times humbled and excited as he stopped for a briefing at Pacific Command, the U.S. military’s headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region, and later toured the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

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The visit to a site honoring those killed in an attack that led the U.S. into a war in which it would drop nuclear bombs on Japan had new symbolism compared with previous presidential visits, due to the growing nuclear standoff with North Korea. Trump is expected to spend part of his five-nation tour in Asia honing security alliances as well as pushing U.S. economic ties. The president was also meeting Friday with governors of U.S. states and territories in the Pacific to discuss the North Korean threat.

Melania Trump to the Arizona memorial, where he took part in a wreath-laying ceremony. White House Chief of Staff Gen. John F. Kelly, national security advisor H.R. McMaster and Adm. Harry Harris of Pacific Command joined the president, who said it would be “exciting” to see Pearl Harbor.

“I’ve read about, spoken about, heard about, studied, but I haven’t seen” the site, he said.

At the memorial, built above the Arizona’s sunken hull, the president saluted as he entered and watched as sailors placed a wreath of white flowers near a wall bearing the names of those who died in the attack. Afterward, the couple threw white flower petals into the water outside. The president did not make a public statement at the ceremony.

About 100 supporters — a mix of military service members and civilians — cheered the president and first lady, who had been given traditional Hawaiian leis upon their afternoon arrival at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Trump supporters also gathered at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in tourist-heavy Waikiki, where the overnight presidential visit closed streets and snarled traffic before an expected early-morning departure.

President Obama was not born in Hawaii.

“Welcome to Kenya” and “No, Trump, HI is Obama’s birthplace,” some of the signs read. “Aloha also means goodbye” and “So bad you make Bush look good,” said others.

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