Thursday, November 8, 2012

They Gave Then, Now It's Your Turn


Helloo0O Ladies and Gentlemen!

Welcome back to Graceland Ontario, your one stop location for connecting the success advice of Elvis Presley back to your own life. With Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth and Veterans Day in the U.S., and with Elvis being a soldier, we're going to talk about service and belief, two traits demonstrated by serving one's country.

To recap the old story, on November 11th 1918, on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th hour, an armistice was signed ending the Great War, the largest war in human history. After four hard years, it was time to look at the future and rebuilding. But simply forgetting the sacrifice shown in those years was inconceivable, so afterwards people started 'remembering' on ‘armistice day’. Of course, we should thank those who fell all year 'round and we do. But this day gets their full attention. 

Not twenty years after the armistice was signed, the man with the funny moustache and not-so funny ideals took over Germany. The previous armistice had hurt the country much and made their people angry. All it took was one man to chew up all the work done after the war aimed at creating a more peaceful world. He started a war even larger than the first, even more terrifying. By its end, the world had seen atomic weapons and suffered like few people now can imagine.

For years after the end of the second war, countries including the U.S., the U.K. and Australia had mandatory conscription. And, in 1958, Elvis Presley, perhaps the most well known rock star in the world, was called upon to do his time.

And he did. In 1960, he was honourably discharged as a sergeant. It blows my mind how a man of his influence, who could have got out of his service easily, decided to stick with it. To me, it shows traits we should all demonstrate, traits not only Elvis but all those who served before and since him have shown to survive their time in the armed forces.

Service to the community

The first is service to the community. Now, a community can be defined as a group of people anywhere in size from a classroom to a country, including the world as a whole. In a way, it’s a living organism, constantly in flux and impacted by the actions of those making it up.

In Elvis's case, it would've been much easier and perhaps preferable for him to get out of his regular service by performing, as he'd done before entering the army. Elvis had a public service type of job to start with and many might have excused his swimming away from his draft because of this. But Elvis decided to support his country the way all young Americans at that time did − by serving.

A lot of people fall into the trap of dieing behind their front door. In other words, they never do anything outside their own home unless someone forces them to do it - like going out to get groceries or work. They cut themselves off from not only society but also their neighbours. The lack of bond between them and everyone they live by destroys the dynamic of their neighbourhood - a real community survives by caring for one another, by love. Pogoing away from this excludes them from being a real part of the body.

But soldiers, they go all out. They not only become part of the community, they leave their homes to meet citizens from all over the country, the larger community. And they do this, in Elvis's case anyways, to do their part in making their country a safer place. He was being paid chocolate almonds compared to what he'd been getting on stage, but by serving he got a feeling that he'd helped a little and acted on the same level as all his fans (and, as a side note, they were impressed with him for it).

You don't have to serve in the army to serve your community. There's always volunteer work to be done. But a lot of people say, 'why should I have to do that if I'm not being paid?"

In short, because it boosts your confidence. You feel you're capable of making a change. You make connections that can move over into your business life. You give of yourself to others who can't give themselves. And because of that, you're increasing the quality of life for everyone in the community. And remember what I said about the community being an organism? The better the community is, the better everyone in the community is. And that includes you.

And besides, if Elvis and all those millions of people who served in the wars and beyond could give of their time and lives for others, why shouldn't you?


Belief in the future

Whenever someone serves in the army, it shows a belief in what their community and to a larger extent their country, the places that make up that army, stand for. A lot of people point out the wrongs the government does against its people. And it’s true. Heck, the propaganda thrown up at people during the Great War was bordering on being a full out lie at times.

But those who did fight did it for the people at home. The ones they loved and oftentimes lost.

To last in the worst of conditions, you have to fight for something. Sometimes for yourself but, for me anyways, it's easier to motivate myself by believing I'm doing something great for others. That belief alone can get me through the job.

Elvis and the veterans of the wars had to think they were giving their lives for something worthwhile. You don't just walk up in front of machine gun otherwise (unless you're severely depressed and I'd guess at least some of people who die in action aren't).

That belief in the future, in those around you, in your neighbours is something that is often forgot now, at least in my neighbourhood. With social media, we're closer than ever and there're more of us than at any other time. Yet, we don't tend to believe in the future and those around us.  People don't take care of themselves and the world because they feel they won't be here long enough for it to matter. That selfish kind of thinking damages everything and everyone.

You show belief in others through acting with kindness (as Elvis did), through smiling (yep, Elvis did that, too), by joking around and having a good time with others (umm yea, Elvis did that as well). You show belief in others by serving them, which makes them feel like a freshly polished dress shoe. And because they're happy, you feel even better. And if the point of living isn't to feel happy and have a good life, then I don't know what is.

Have a great Remembrance/ Veterans Day and see you next week! And if you are a veteran from ANY conflict, serving any nation, let me take this sentence and post to thank you for all you did. It took guts and I, as well as anyone with an inch of gratitude, am moved by your actions.

Elvis's Lessons:

Elvis was a soldier. In the spirit of Remembrance Day, we talked about a couple of the most noble traits of the soldier: giving to the community and believing in the future. When you follow these traits, you create a greater community feeling which make everyone feel happier. And since one of the main goals of living is to be happy, it seems like a good deal for everyone involved.

P.S. If you'd like to see Elvis singing a hit that came out while he was in the army, here's a Youtube video of him with “I Need Your Love Tonight”.

P.P.S. Please remember to leave a comment below or email me at I'd be glad to talk with you about anything that's on your mind.

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