Arizona Memorial, Honolulu

December 7, 2012 by  

Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, This year marks the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.It was 71 years ago, Dec. 7, 1941, a sleepy Sunday morning, that the Japanese began their sneak attack on the navy base at Pearl Harbor and surrounding military installations.

More than 2,400 people were killed that morning – 1,177 aboard the Arizona– in the attack the led the United States into World War II.

Here’s a story you might not know about how Elvis Presley contributed to the building of the memorial which spans the sunken ship.

Following the war there was talk of building a monument near the USS Arizona, which remained sunk in the mud of Pearl Harbor.

However, for most of the 1950s, there was only talk, and little action. Some just wanted to remove the ship, along with the men interred inside her, from the harbor

In 1958, President Eisenhower authorized the creation of the memorial to be built with private money. However, efforts to raise money to build the memorial floundered.

Finally, the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper sent out letters to other newspapers and publications appealing to them to write editorials in support of the memorial.

The Los Angeles Examiner wrote an editorial in support of the memorial that was read by Col. Tom Parker, Presley’s manager. Elvis had just gotten out of the U.S. Army and was about to head to Hawaii to shoot a movie.

Parker and Presley planned a fund-raising concert at Bloch Arena, near Pearl Harbor, to raise money for the memorial.

On March 25, 1961 the concert took place. Elvis performed for free and more than $60,000 was raised.

In addition to the money, the concert brought much needed attention to memorial project.

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