Elvis Presley’s Highest Honor

Elvis Presley is possibly the most celebrated entertainer of all time. He won Grammy Awards, has sold millions of records and his own Hall of Gold at his home can’t even hold all of his Gold, Platinum and Diamond Records, much less the countless other awards he won during his legendary career. But his most treasured award wasn’t for making money or becoming a household name; it was for being a good man. In 1970, Elvis was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men by the United States Junior Chamber, or the Jaycees. It was the only award he ever accepted in person, and it was the only award he carried with him every where he went for the rest of his life. In celebration of Citizenship Day on September 17, let’s take a look at Elvis’ highest honor. The Ten Outstanding Young Men program – now renamed the Ten Outstanding Young Americans – was created by the Jaycees in 1938 to honor 10 Americans, aged 18-40, who “best exemplify the highest attributes of the nation’s emerging generation,” according to the Jaycee’s website. Men and women who excel in all fields, including entertainment, sports, business, academics, politics, medicine, science, technology and humanitarian efforts, are honored. In 1970, Elvis was close friends with Bill Morris. Bill was the Shelby County Sheriff, and he went on to serve as the mayor of Memphis. Bill nominated Elvis for inclusion in Ten Outstanding Young Men, thanks to his impact on music and culture, not to mention his charitable heart. Elvis constantly donated to charities, especially those in Memphis and Shelby County. Elvis was incredibly honored by his inclusion in Ten Outstanding Young Men. He and Priscilla attended the JCC prayer breakfast at the Memphis Holiday Inn Rivermont, and later that afternoon, United Nations ambassador-appointee and future U.S. President George H. W. Bush spoke at the JCC luncheon. That evening, Elvis and Priscilla held a reception at Graceland for the award winners and Jaycee officials, followed by a formal dinner at the Four Flames Restaurant. The 8 p.m. awards ceremony took place at Ellis Auditorium – a building very special to Elvis. He went to plenty of concerts there and eventually performed there himself as a young singer. Elvis always commanded a stage, and that’s what he did with his heartfelt speech at the awards ceremony. He quoted one of his favorite Roy Hamilton songs in his...
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Meet Elvis Presley’s Grandma, Minnie Mae

Most folks have a grandmother. Elvis had “Dodger.” Sunday, September 13 is Grandparents’ Day, and to celebrate we’re getting to know Minnie Mae Presley, Elvis’ paternal grandmother, whom he affectionately called “Dodger.” Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, in Lee County. His family tree traces both east and west of the All America City. His parents came from the the two counties that surround Lee County: His mother’s family is from Pontotoc County, which is to the west of Lee County, and his father’s family is from Itawamba County, which to to the east. The Hoods came to Itawamba County from Alabama in the 1830s, and one Hood family member, Joshua, built a log cabin there. It’s believed Minnie Mae Hood was born there on June 17, 1890, to Mary Louisa and William H. “Buck” Hood. A portion of that log cabin still stands, and there are many Hood relatives still living in the area. Minnie Mae married Jessie D. McDowell Presley on July 20, 1913. The couple welcomed their first child, Vernon Presley, on April 10, 1916. The couple went on to have four more children: Vester, Delta Mae, Gladys Erlene Dowling, and Rev. Nashval Lorene Pritchett (Presley). Minnie Mae and Jessie’s marriage slowly declined and the couple unofficially separated; she moved in with her son, Vernon, his wife, Gladys, and son, Elvis. She moved with them when they moved from Tupelo to Memphis, and Minnie Mae and her husband officially divorced in 1954. Minnie Mae lived with Elvis and his parents at all of their homes in Memphis, including Graceland. She even traveled to Germany with Elvis while he was stationed there. Elvis, always the family man, loved having his relatives so close. Others called her “Grandma,” but Elvis nicknamed her “Dodger.” No matter what life threw her way, she always came through it in the end. Minnie Mae died on May 8, 1980, in Memphis. She is buried at the Meditation Garden at Graceland near her son, Vernon, daughter-in-law Gladys, and her grandson, Elvis. In the mornings, visitors can walk up to visit the Meditation Garden at Graceland for free. Check Graceland.com for more information and how to book your visit to experience the the king’s...
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Elvis Presley’s Books

Elvis Presley loved to read. Not only did he keep books at home at Graceland Mansion, he often took many books out on the road with him while he toured. Elvis’ favorite books are well-worn and well-loved; he would often underline his favorite passages and add notes in the margins. National Read a Book Day is Sunday, September 6, so in celebration, here’s a look at a few books from Elvis’ collection. Elvis’ record collection contains music from all genres, but he owned a lot of gospel records. His library is similar: There are books on just about every topic, but he owned a lot of religious books. He owned many, many copies of The Holy Bible. Some are hard cover; some are soft covers. Some are copies that he purchased and some are gifts from fans. In his King of Kings Holy Bible were found notes he’d written to himself on sheet music. He also kept a note from a fan in that Bible, as well as a card and bookmark. One Bible, The New Chain Reference Bible, was a gift from the Elvis Presley Fan Club in Melbourne. “To Elvis with Fondest Wishes from Your Australian Fans,” is stamped on the inside cover. Elvis was interested in and inspired by spiritualism and religion. His library reflects that: Titles in his library include “Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning” by Thomas Troward; “The Mystic Bible” by Dr. Randolph Stone; “Certain Women – A Study of Biblical Women” by Zona Bays Marshall; and, of course, one of his favorites, Joseph Benner’s “The Impersonal Life.” Elvis purchased hundreds of copies of that book over the years and gave them to family and friends. Elvis had quite a collection of fascinating history books and historical biographies, too. Like the Bibles, some he purchased, while others were gifts from fans and friends. Topics include American history and Presidents, World Wars I and II, the Kennedy family, Winston Churchill, Eugene Lyons and more. Elvis also owned lots of books about sports, especially football and karate. His library included “Illustrated History of Football” by Robert Smith; “The History of Pro Football” by Harold Claassen; and both volumes of “Vince Lombardi on Football.” Elvis also owned a signed copy of famed Ole Miss coach John Vaught’s “Rebel Coach.” Elvis owned countless karate books. Just a few of his karate books include “Karate Kata Heian 5” and “Dynamic Karate” by...
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Q&A: 2015 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist David Lee

Dreams came true for David Lee on August 13, 2015, when he was named the 2015 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, and a big Elvis fan, David advanced to the Semifinal and Final Rounds during Elvis Week after winning the Ocean City Elvis Festival’s Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Preliminary Round. David won the title of 2015 Ultimate ETA, a contract to perform for Legends in Concert, the 2015 Ultimate ETA Contest belt designed by B&K Enterprises, and a cash prize of $20,000. Let’s get to know David Lee better. Q: When and how did you become a fan of Elvis Presley? A: Of course, like most people, I heard Elvis at a young age, and knew something about him was different. But I became a die-hard Elvis fan thanks to a guy named Kevin Muir, who I worked with in my early 20s. He introduced me to the more obscure songs and I was hooked instantly! I now have a huge Elvis collection – well over 10,000 pieces. I even have over 1,000 Elvis 8-track tapes! Q: How did you become an Elvis Tribute Artist? A: Simply put, my love of everything Elvis was so strong that I had to have an outlet to express that. It was the early ’90s and karaoke was really becoming very popular, so I would go and sing at local establishments. The first time I can remember actually dressing the part was when a coworker was leaving the company we worked for, so myself and another friend actually bought a cheap Elvis costume and performed in front of about 100 people at his going-away party. I must have had half of those 100 come up to me and say, ‘Wow, you sound like Elvis,’ ‘Can you come and sing for daughter’s birthday?’ and so forth and so on. I knew that day that things were going to change. I just had no idea how much and that there was an Elvis world out there! Q: What are some of the highlights of your ETA career thus far (besides being named the 2015 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist)? A: Wow. Great question. This is my 20th year as an ETA and I have had a lot of great things happen to me. I have been fortunate enough to win the biggest competitions in the world. In 2004, I was and still am the only person to win the International...
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Elvis Week Instagram Challenge

Just before Elvis Week, we issued a challenge to Elvis fans: Share your Elvis Week experience on Instagram. We asked fans to snap photos while they’re at Elvis Week at Graceland, tag Graceland and post those pictures to Instagram. And, as always, Elvis fans answered the challenge. There were hundreds of photos tagged #ElvisWeek, #Graceland and more, and here are just a very few of our favorites. TYTYVM for answering the challenge, Elvis fans, and remember to follow Graceland on Instagram at @VisitGraceland!   TYTYVM to all of the Elvis fans who took amazing Instagram pictures at Elvis Week! Be sure to check out the Elvis Week photo gallery at Graceland.com for even more photos from the...
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