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Saturday, March 24, 2018

60th anniversary of Elvis induction into the Army

I started writing a long note to someone about the historic and yet routine -- for the time -- induction of Elvis into the Army. 60 years ago today, he and a group of young men raised their right hands, and took an oath that never expired.

He was the King of Rock 'n' Roll. He became a buck private.

The timing was heart-breaking. His phenomenal career had just taken off. Movies. Records. Concerts.

But at the peak of his popularity, he was called to serve a peacetime Army.

And he went. And he excelled. He proved himself as a man. He took no special favors. He earned his stripes.

He was a tanker, which made good use of his truck driving experience and mechanical skills. Instead of stateside duty, they sent him to Germany -- the front line of the Cold War.

His induction was a cultural event. He inspired the play and later movie, "Bye-Bye Birdie," which launched the careers of Dick Van Dyke, Paul Lynde, and Ann-Margret. She later co-starred in my favorite Elvis picture, "Viva Las Vegas." She has another great patriotic story.

He was one in ten. That is how many draft-age boys did military time in the pre-baby boom and baby-boom generations. I scoff when I hear people discuss deferments as if they were a sign of cowardice. They deferred the draft, and if you made it past 26, you were unlikely to go.

I had a deferment when I was in high school.

College meant a deferment.

Marriage and two kids meant a deferment.

Having a deferment was not draft dodging any more than taking a deduction is tax evasion.

Muhammad Ali was a draft dodger. He received the notice and refused to serve. If you fight for a living, how can you call yourself a pacifist?

Enough about him.

Elvis set a good example. He went, and he didn't whine about it. Post-service, he never achieved that level of popularity he had in 1957. And his military service broke his mother's heart. She died a few months after he left for basic.

That was the price he paid for freedom.


  1. My deferment was getting run over by a farm truck. Tried 2 times to join.
    Never formally called up. TG.
    did get a job with a Govn't contractor and a clearance-something that doesn't mean so much these days..TG

  2. Viva, Elvis! A patriot. I have some Elvis movies on DVD. Do I have G.I. Blues? Gotta go look and see. If so, it's popcorn time! - Elric

  3. So many of the old actors and athletes served in WWII - and saw action. Bravo for Elvis as well. A simple country boy from Mississippi did what was right and expected of him.

    A different breed of man back then. Thank you for reminding us.

    1. And a lot of them volunteered. Like Jimmy Stewart. It set some Hollywood careers back, but you can't hhold back a patriot. We still have a few men like that. Mostly from flyover country. - Elric

  4. Cassius Clay was in no danger of going to the front lines either, but he didn't do his duty to his country. Then the liberal sports media lionized him. It was disgusting that he lit the Olympic torch. - GOc

  5. Elvis should have hired a bone spur doc. Just a little money and the right signature he could have followed the path of cap'n spray tan.

    1. Your liberal tears are sweet to us. They taste especially good in my morning coffee.

    2. Or BJ Clinton, our first draft dodger president. - GOC

  6. My husband joined the Army -- not drafted -- in 1958 when he was married to his first wife. They allowed him to be at the birth of his daughter before he took off for basic training. He was sent to Germany, so he heard about Elvis. He said what Elvis bought for himself, he bought for his whole barracks. My husband was in Germany for 6+ years. His wife and daughter followed shortly after the baby's birth, but the marriage didn't last. After Germany, he volunteered for 2 years in Vietnam.