Society

Obama Family Embarks On Final Vacation To Hawaii

| by Sarah Zimmerman

President Barack Obama and his family will take Air Force One on Dec. 16 to Honolulu for their annual Christmas vacation. This will be their final vacation as the first family.

The Obamas spend every Christmas on the island of Oahu, where the president grew up, notes The Huffington Post.

"I am an island boy," the president said, during the Paris climate talks.

Although Chicago is the Obama family's home, Hawaii has been instrumental in the president's upbringing.

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"You can't really understand Barack until you understand Hawaii," said first lady Michelle Obama. 

The family usually stays in the beach town of Kailua, where they rent a luxurious home that costs $3,500 a day. They pay the rental fee themselves.

The U.S. Coast Guard has set up a temporary security zone in the area from Dec. 16 to Jan. 5, according to Hawaii News Now. As he did in 2015, the president has few work-related events on his agenda for the holidays. The president usually spends his time hiking, working out at the gym, playing golf and eating at high-end restaurants.

The president's relaxed schedule does include at least one official event -- a historic meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Sinzo Abe at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 27. Abe will be the first Japanese leader to visit the harbor and pay tribute to the thousands of lives lost during the 1941 attack.

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“This visit is to comfort the souls of the victims. We’d like to send messages about the importance of reconciliation,” said Abe, according to The Washington Post. 

Some speculate Abe's tribute is meant to reciprocate Obama's May visit to Hiroshima, the site of one of the U.S. atomic bomb attacks in 1945. Bruce Klinger, Asia specialist at the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, called the upcoming visit "very surprising news" but "reasonable quid pro quo since Obama went to Hiroshima."

“People will be watching for his remarks,” Klingner. “I think it will be another way for the U.S. and Japan to reaffirm their strong relationship."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the meeting "an opportunity for the two leaders to review our joint efforts over the past four years to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance, including our close cooperation on a number of security, economic and global challenges."

Sources: The Huffington Post (2), Hawaii News Now, The Washington Post / Photo credit: Steve Jurvestson/Flickr

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