Elvis Aaron Presley would have been 80 today. He remains a presence despite his premature death on Aug. 16, 1977. He was one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century, and part of my life before and after his death.
I watched Elvis films at my first sergeant’s on-base apartment in Mainz, Germany with other members of our S-1 unit. We were cognizant of Presley’s military service in nearby Friedberg. It was just out of the the valley leading to the Fulda Gap where we went on maneuvers. We could connect to the King as a real person.
Today I realize that Presley’s military service was carefully planned by his producers at RCA records, who didn’t miss a beat releasing new records while he served. Presley died during the first year I was stationed in Germany and the “Aloha from Hawaii” version of Presley wasn’t my favorite. His southern roots resonated with our family history reaching back to the hills of Appalachia. I felt he was one of us.
Besides my USPS coffee mug, I have no Elvis memorabilia in the house, nor do I seek any. There are no plans to visit Graceland, or the birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi, or anyplace else Elvis walked the earth. From time to time, I remember his work and God willing and the creek don’t rise I might watch Blue Hawaii one more time.
We don’t pick the times in which we live, yet we control our own destiny. Elvis Presley is an example of someone who made something unique of his life. While I won’t be impersonating him, I am glad to have lived part of my life when he lived his.