Countless social media tributes have been posted today for the men and women who have given their lives for our nation. Although most know that Elvis Presley was indeed in the Army, it’s likely not your first thought of his career. Most people think of his hit songs and movies, Graceland, his dancing, and the famous jumpsuit costumes. Yet The King’s most important contribution in his career could arguably be his time in service of our country.
At the height of Presley’s fame in 1958, the Army drafted the famous singer into service. After doing so, the military offered him the opportunity to enlist in Special Services. If accepted, he would entertain the troops and live in nicer housing than other soldiers.
However, Elvis Presley’s manager convinced him to serve as a regular soldier. For the next two years, the iconic musician played his part while in the Army. In addition, he was stationed in West Germany after he completed basic training at Fort Hood. He returned home a couple of years later and continued his legendary career. Yet many forget that one of the biggest stars of any era served his country at the peak of his entertainment career.
“Today we honor and mourn the military men and women that have died while on duty. #MemorialDay #ElvisPresley,” the account captioned the post.
Elvis Presley Helped Raise Funds for a Pearl Harbor Memorial
In the 1950s, an idea for a Pearl Harbor Memorial was presented with an estimated cost of $500,000 needed for its creation. But the idea never gained enough traction, nor did it raise the proper funding for completion. Enter Elvis Presley upon his return from the military.
After his two-year stint in the Army, Presley returned home to the States. Almost exactly a year later, The King performed a benefit concert to raise the needed money for the USS Arizona Memorial. On March 25, 1961, 4,000 fans attended the show at Bloch Arena in Honolulu.
Oddly enough, the benefit concert would be Elvis Presley’s last live performance for the next eight years. Sadly there is no recording of the Pearl Harbor show. NBC and Presley’s longtime manager, Colonel Tom Parker, couldn’t come to an agreement over filming the event. The memorial was eventually built with the help of the concert’s proceeds. But fans unfortunately will never get to relive the event since there isn’t any footage.