Friday, March 24, 2017

1958 and Elvis joins the US Army

The US Armed Forces today is made up of volunteers.  For example, our #3 son served in the US Army.

A generation ago, young men were drafted for military service.    The draft ended in the 1970s under President Nixon.

One of those young men drafted was the legendary Elvis.   He joined the US Army on this day in 1958:
"Elvis's manager, "Colonel" Tom Parker, made sure to have a photographer on hand to document every moment of the big day, which began at Graceland before six that morning. 
The photos show Elvis in dark slacks, an opened-collar shirt and a tasteful plaid sports coat, preparing to depart the house with his similarly well-dressed mom and dad for the short ride to the induction center in downtown Memphis. 
The 23-year-old Elvis looked fantastic, of course, and his face betrayed no hint of nervousness or regret. 
The flat expression on Gladys Presley's face, however, and the dark circles under her eyes, hint at the emotional impact of preparing to send her only child off on a two-year stint away from home—far longer than she and Elvis had ever before been separated. 
This would be the last time that Elvis would see his mother in good health, as she was diagnosed with hepatitis and hospitalized later that spring during Elvis's first weekend leave. 
Elvis would be granted leave once again in August to attend to his mother on her death bed. Gladys Presley passed away on August 16, 1958, and four weeks later, Elvis shipped out to Germany.    There would be other huge changes in Elvis's life during his two years in the Army. 
He would meet a 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu while in Germany, and he would watch while a new crop of teen idols took over the limelight on the U.S. pop scene. 
In the spring of 1960, Elvis would return to his rightful throne, but his Army years mark a clear line of separation between the Old Elvis and the New. 
Behind Elvis Presley lay records like "That's All Right (Mama)" and "Jailhouse Rock." Ahead of lay songs like "Aloha Oe" and "Pocketful of Rainbows," and films like Harum Scarum and Clambake."

It's been over 50 years and I continue to admire Elvis' decision.  He could have fought the draft with legal gimmicks, starting with the fact that he was already 23! 

Nevertheless, he went, did his duty and came back to more success.

Well done Elvis!

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