Tom Time Traveling Tales #2: The Patriotic Presley
Elvis Presley is one of the most notable musicians ever. He is the best selling musician of all time based on claimed sales. All you have to do is say his first name and everybody knows who you are talking about. He's one of the true mononymous figures in history. Due to his notoriety in the music industry, his admiration for public service often goes unnoticed.
In 1958, Elvis was drafted into the United States Army. Despite being a chart topping artist, Elvis didn't want any special treatment in his military service. He is quoted saying "The Army can do anything it wants with me." His willingness to be a part of the Army as such a high profile individual is a demonstration of his love for his country. His military career would prove to be a formative experience. During his time in the military he would be introduced to amphetamines, karate, and his future wife Priscilla. After an 18-month stint in the Army, Elvis would receive an honorable discharge. Although his military career was over, his dedication to his country was not.
During the 1960s, America experienced the British Invasion: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks, were British bands that saw massive success in America. In the late 1960s, hippies started making their way into the American culture. To Elvis these factions were Anti-American.
In 1970, Elvis orchestrated a meeting with U.S. President Richard Nixon. The meeting was set up by Elvis when he wrote a 6 page letter to President Nixon about becoming a federal agent. In the meeting, Elvis expressed his concerns with hippie culture and The Beatles. Elvis suffered from abuses of prescription drugs but was vehemently against the emerging drug culture of the 60s. After the meeting, Nixon gave Elvis a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Badge.
(Ollie Atkins, White House)
During the American bicentennial (1976), Elvis added another badge to his collection. Elvis was a good friend of Denver Police Captain, Jerry Kennedy. Whenever Elvis was in town he would often wear he own Denver police uniform. Elvis became very close with the police force of Denver, bought Captain Kennedy, Detective Petrifaso, and Sergeant Robert Cantrell luxury cars. While, this seems illegal to gift the police department cars, Elvis was eventually awarded for this. Elvis received a Denver Police Captain's badge and a Model 1911 Colt. 45.
(Elvis Presley Photos)
Elvis' appreciation for cops was well recorded, but I feel like for how much he weighed police duty in his own personal life is always overshadowed by his music career. On top of the badges mentioned in this article, Elvis acquired a Reserve Captain's Badge for the city of Memphis, Lieutenant Detective Badge for the City of Los Angeles, Sheriff's Badge for Shelby County, Tennessee, Deputy Sheriff's Badge for Hinds County, Mississippi, Deputy Sheriff Badge for the city of Mobile, Alabama, Police Badge for the City of Cincinnati, Ohio, 'Kent Constabulary' Badge for the county of Kent, England, and a Deputy Sheriff's Badge for Cumberland County, North Carolina. Elvis loved the police and the police loved him. The patriotic Presley had a passion for the police.
Thank you for checking out my article. If you want to learn more check out @historyuniversity on Instagram. I host livestream, Q&A and quizzes about history. - Tom