Elvis Presley fans have a hard time understanding why the visitor center at Pearl Harbor does not recognize Elvis for his contributions to help getting the USS Arizona Memorial built. In the local Hawaiian newspapers, headlines have stated that Presley “rescued the Arizona memorial” and that “Elvis ‘built’ the Arizona Memorial.” Yet Pacific Historic Parks and the National Park Service, which oversee the memorial, refuse to display a permanent tribute to the King and his efforts that had a snowball effect on building the memorial.
On March 25, 1961, Elvis Presley performed a special concert in Honolulu, Hawaii to raise funds for the USS Arizona Memorial, a tribute to the US service men and women who lost their lives during the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.
Yet, nearly 20 years after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, fundraising for the yet-to-be constructed memorial had stalled. Imagine if it took 20 years to build the 9/11 memorial? Presley’s concert, held at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard Bloch Arena, raised over $64,000 for the memorial fund. Elvis performed for more than 4,000 fans with ticket prices ranging from $3 to $100.
But it’s not just a single concert that Presley should be recognized for. As a result of publicity from Elvis’ concert, donations from public and private sources poured in from around the country, enough to raise the full $500,000 that was needed to complete the memorial.
Without Presley’s concert, the USS Arizona memorial may have never been completed. As George Chaplin wrote in the Honolulu Advertiser in 1991: “His [Presley’s] Hawaii concert did more than raise money. It created national publicity and revived public sentiment for the memorial. That September, Congress was prodded into voting $150,000; then the Hawaii Legislature added $50,000 to a previous contribution.” The next year, on Memorial Day in 1962, the USS Arizona memorial was dedicated.
As recent as May 2016, the only mention of Presley at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center was in the gift shop in a small sign next to some books, which read: “An Elvis Presley benefit concert held in 1961 raised more than $64,000 to help build the USS Arizona Memorial.”
When asked about a plaque in recognition of Presley, the Visitor Center staff had multiple explanations. Officials say Presley is recognized at Bloch Arena, where the actual concert was held. However, civilians aren’t allowed to visit Bloch Arena since it is on a military base.
Another response is that Presley never wanted recognition for his efforts. However, in previous years, there was a plaque and also a mention of Elvis in a temporary exhibit at the memorial. For unknown reasons, these were taken down by the Park Service.
As a result, Presley’s fans have started a petition to reinstate Elvis Presley’s name on the USS Arizona Memorial. While it’s true that there were other people who also helped raise funds for the memorial, why not recognize a fellow U.S. veteran for his efforts?
Pacific Historic Parks states clearly on its brochures that “history is important — it needs to be protected, researched, preserved and passed on to future generations.” So why is this important part of the USS Arizona Memorial’s history being left out of the story?
When Elvis died in August 1977, the 14th Naval District in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii sent a telegram to Presley’s father, Vernon: “Elvis Presley was greatly admired by the Navy men and women, past and present, of the 50th State,” the telegram read. “Your great loss is deeply shared by all of us who remember Elvis Presley as an outstanding American who loved his country and felt a kindred spirit with American men and women in uniform.”
To contact Pacific Historic Parks, visit (https://twitter.com/pacificparks) and the National Park Service (https://twitter.com/NatlParkService)
For more fascinating Elvis Presley stories, check out the author’s book, ELVIS: Behind The Legend: Startling Truths About The King of Rock and Roll’s Life, Loves, Films and Music
12 thoughts on “Elvis Presley fans demand recognition for The King at USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor”
WHOMEVER APPROVED THE PEARL HABOUR MEMORIAL WAS NOT AN ELVIS FAN. HOWEVER, THIS SHOLD NOT HAVE AFFECTED THAT PERSON’S DECISION.
there was a plaque with Elvis’ contribution, it was removed in 1987 by the Federal Parks and Recreation board, because of all the Drug and Love Child Press that Elvis had in that decade, despite that the Post Office released the first Elvis stamp… one more way republicans are not rock n roll.
If it had not been for elvis presley this monument would not exsist hes name should be on it
Elvis should be recognized for his generous donation to the Pearl Harbor foundation. He didn’t want recognition, but he certainly deserves it.
Elvis is the King.
Elvis should be recognized for his generous donation to Pearl Harbour!!
Let’s see if any one current entertainer can perform for free with 100% donation from the show to fix the Memorials ramp problem. And raise as much $as Elvis did.
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Elvis Presley deserves recognition for the existence of the Arizona Memorial. Without Elvis’s efforts and generosity, the Arizona Memorial would never have been built. Elvis loved his country. He had great pride and admiration for the men who were in the armed forces. There are more than 1100 men who, to this day, are entombed on the U.S.S. Arizona. Elvis felt those sailors who lost their lives should be honored and remembered. He was determined to make that happen. Elvis Presley was the person most instrumental in the building of the Arizona Memorial. He deserves recognition for the existence of the Arizona Memorial.
I cannot understand why anyone wants to eliminate the fact that Elvis was responsible for the building of the Arizona Memorial. He is the main reason it was built. He made it possible for millions of people to observe the U.S.S. Arizona in its final resting place. It is an educational experience. Everyone should be made aware of the fact that Elvis made the Arizona Memorial a reality.
When I was in high school, I learned about World War 1 and the attack on Pearl Harbor. I knew it happened, but it was difficult to grasp the reality of it. As an adult, I had the opportunity to visit the Arizona Memorial. I was amazed when I walked around and looked down into the water and could see the U.S.S. Arizona. The memorial is built right above the ship. There are still oil slicks in the water from the oil leaking out. There are pieces of the ship sticking out of the water. I watched the film that is offered about the attack on Pearl Harbor. There is a wall in the memorial with the names of the sailors who are entombed. By actually walking over the top of the ship, reading the names on the wall, and watching the film, the attack onPearl Harbor became real to me. It was a very educational experience. So many people have the opportunity to experience the educational event and learn about a large part of American History in such a special way, thanks to Elvis.
Don’t erase the fact that Elvis is the main reason there is an Arizona Memorial. Without his efforts and generous contribution, it would never have been built. Visitors have the right to know how dedicated Elvis Presley was to his country, and it was he who made it possible for them to visit the Arizona Memorial.
World War II, not World War I ( I can’t type………lol)
This is total bullshit. Elvis should be recognized, he was after all still “military” on reserve, correct? Of course Hawaii Is run by liberals, so we know what they’ve been doing with history lately.
Our production company is doing a Documentary on the USS Arizona called a Band to Honor – One of our Featurettes is called The Building of A Memorial and our intent was to recognize Elvis Presley’s contribution to helping build the Arizona Memorial – Sadly, after reaching out to all of the groups associated with the Presley – including Elvis Presley Enterprises which controls the Presley estate – to ask permission to use a few photographs of Elvis during his trip to Hawaii and at the fundraiser – We received ONE response from someone who owned the copyright to several of the photographs of Elvis in Hawaii and that person wanted $10,000 to give permission to use his TWO photographs of Elvis in Hawaii. Now our mention of Elvis is much shorter and done with a single newspaper clipping – Ironically – We asked Ralph Edwards (from the television show THIS IS YOUR LIFE) if we could use a photograph of him and they sent SEVERAL including a VIDEO INTERVIEW of Mr. Edwards talking about the Arizona Memorial – There was no cost for licensing. We would have loved to have given the King the credit he deserved, but at least he will still get mentioned by our production – Wish we could have done more – He is more than deserving of recognition.
No, Jesus Christ is The “King”, Elvis hated being called the King, even said himself the only King was Jesus Christ.
Still, with that said,I loved Elvis, and his contributions should be recognized ! If this had been a member of Congress or senate, they would have a plaque,statue,balloons,and everything else to recognize that person, yet Elvis,nothing ! Shameful indeed !