Unit 4 - Unit 4 Greetings To: Elvis Aron Presley Selective...

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Unit 4 “Greetings…” To: Elvis Aron Presley Selective Service Number 40 86 35 16 Mailing Address: Graceland Highway 61 South Memphis, Tennessee GREETINGS: You are hereby ordered for induction into the Armed Forces of the United States and to report at Room 215, 198 South Main Street, Memphis, Tennessee at 7:45 AM on the 20th of January 1958 for forwarding to an armed forces induction center. Two days after his last appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, on his twenty-second birthday, Elvis Presley was reclassified 1A by the Memphis Draft Board and on December 18, 1957 he was ordered to report for induction into the Armed Forces of the United States. The seemingly unstoppable rise of Elvis Presley was brought to a screeching halt. There are many who still believe that military conscription was used as a kind of weapon against Elvis to stop his ever–growing popularity or punish him for daring to upset and disturb the equilibrium of post–war America. The Memphis draft board received hundreds of letters from enraged fans who saw his conscription as a government attempt to sabotage his career. This is probably not as far–fetched an idea as it might sound. In the 1950s, local draft boards held the power to determine who would be called for service and who would not. Most draft boards chose inductees by lot but there was no public policy or order that prescribed how choices had to be made or that they be decided in a fair or evenhanded way. The head of the Memphis board hinted that there was more to Elvis being called than the mere luck of the draw. He proclaimed in an unusual show of public spite, “After all, when you take him out of the entertainment business, what have you got? A truck driver.” There were many in the United States who hated Elvis for what he had done and feared what he might do if left unchecked and unchallenged. The logic seems to have been that a stint in the Army might be just the thing to set him straight and bring him back down to the level of other mere mortals. And, of course, there was the hope that, once out of the public’s eye, he might simply be forgotten. Remarkably, Elvis never fought being drafted or sought special treatment beyond requesting a sixty–day postponement of his induction to allow him to finish King Creole. He may have been America’s most public rebel but rebellion was not something that he had consciously chosen or
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arrived at as a deliberate act. His rebelliousness came, merely, as a natural consequence of his background, something that he simply felt, like his music, and when he was called upon to serve his country, he complied. “I’m kinda proud of it. It’s a duty I’ve got to fill, and I’m gonna do it.” Doing His Duty “So long, see you when I get out.” —Elvis to his bandmates Scotty Moore and Bill Black The way in which he answered the call to military service would alter much of the public’s
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This note was uploaded on 02/03/2010 for the course INART 200 at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

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Unit 4 - Unit 4 Greetings To: Elvis Aron Presley Selective...

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