A new plaque recognizing Elvis Presley’s role in raising funds to build the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor was unveiled yesterday. The unveiling took place at a private ceremony at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
In attendance at the ceremony were (pictured below, left to right): actor Jon Seda, the Global Spokesperson for the World War II Foundation, who plays Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone in HBO’s “The Pacific,” Daniel Martinez, Chief Historian of The USS Arizona and Pearl Harbor, actor Chike Okonkwo, star of NBC’s “La Brea,” Tim Gray, President of the World War II Foundation, Randy Stratton, son of USS Arizona survivor Donald Stratton, and a Hawaiian priest (Kahu).
The 12 x 18 plaque with a bronze bust of Elvis at the top was presented by the World War II Foundation and made possible by donations from the public including many Elvis fans.
The plaque reads:
“On March 21, 1961, Elvis Presley performed in a benefit concert at Pearl Harbor’s Bloch Arena to raise funds for the construction of the USS Arizona Memorial.
Elvis held his pre-concert press conference here at Hilton Hawaiian Village. Following the concert, Elvis remained at the hotel for the filming of the renowned movie, “Blue Hawaii.” The hotel was to become his place of retreat during his many visits to Hawai’i.
Dedicated on December 7, 2021 – The 80th Anniversary of the Day of Infamy – by the World War II Foundation.”
The plaque is on display next to the Hilton Hawaiian Village Tapa Tower, where the history of the hotel is shown on posters on the wall.
According to Tim Gray, President of the World War II Foundation, the Elvis plaque was chosen to be displayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village because “that is where Elvis always stayed when in Oahu. He held his press conference there prior to the concert and the hotel has preserved his suite there today. It’s called the “King Suite” and is a shrine to Elvis staying there often and his role in the Memorial effort. We know it will be seen by tens of thousands of people each year who visit the hotel and maybe that will inspire them to want to know more about Elvis’ role in the project.”
Gray’s latest documentary film, Elvis and The USS Arizona, has just aired on American Public Television stations across the U.S. The film tells the story of how Presley literally helped build the memorial that stands today.
Here is the trailer:
For more info on the film, Elvis and The USS Arizona, click here.
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