By Mary Ann Endy
A letter appeared in the Los Angeles Times in an editorial asking friends on the mainland to write something about the effort to properly memorialize the USS Arizona. Col. Tom Parker saw the editorial and he happened to be the manager of the biggest name in music – Elvis Presley.
Elvis was already heading to Hawaii to film a movie called Blue Hawaii. Col. Parker asked Elvis if he would consider holding a benefit concert at Pearl Harbor to help move the USS Arizona project forward. Elvis did not hesitate and said “yes” right away.
On March 25, 1961, at Pearl Harbor’s Bloch Area hosted the sold-out the Elvis Presley USS Arizona Memorial Benefit Concert. Even opening acts such as Minnie Pearl had to buy their tickets. The Elvis Presley Benefit Concert raised over $60,000 for the USS Arizona Memorial and brought awareness of the cause across the world. ALL MONEY RAISED went to the memorial. Elvis also made a personal donation.
With the help of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Dwight D. Eisenhower, both WWII veterans, the final amount of money was raised for the Arizona Memorial with it being officially dedicated the following year in 1962.
Elvis Presley was a major reason why the Memorial exists today, according to the World War II Foundation.