December 20, 2011 - Hanukkah and Elvis!

First Night of Hanukkah

Here is a short History Channel video on Hanukkah. To learn more about this Jewish holiday, check out this and the second half of this other earlier blog post.

Elvis is drafted into the army!

Have you ever heard of “the draft”? This is a system by which people are selected (often randomly) for compulsory service in the armed forces. When Elvis was in his 20s, young men in good health were expected to be available to “serve their country” in the armed forces, if needed.

In 1957, Elvis Presley—who was already rich and famous, having produced such hits as Hound Dog and Don't Be Cruel—received his draft notice that stated that he had to serve two years in the U.S. Army.

Presley had received a letter ten days before saying that he was up for the draft, and the Army, Navy and Air Force recruiters called to offer him special enlistment opportunities if he signed up before being drafted. Part of the Navy's offer was to create a special “Elvis Presley Company” that would include soldiers from his home area. He could be part of Special Services and sing his way through his service. However, Elvis turned all the offers down, taking a chance with the draft.

And then he received the fateful letter: He was told to report to the Army on the same day he was supposed to start filming a movie!

Elvis ended up serving, by choice, with no special treatment. He went through boot camp, carried his own rifle and gear, went on guard duty—just like anyone else. In the meantime, the record companies released the various songs he had already recorded, one by one, keeping Elvis in the limelight despite the fact that he was overseas in Germany. Many people admired Elvis's grit and patriotism shown by his military service. So, in the long run, being away for two years may have actually helped Elvis's career!

By the way, these days, we have an all-volunteer army and other armed forces.

To learn more about Elvis and the draft, go here

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