The World War II Foundation Dedicates Elvis Presley Plaque in Honolulu, Hawaii, Recognizing Presley’s Role in Helping to Secure Important Funding for the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor
South Kingstown, Rhode Island-The World War II Foundation recently dedicated a plaque at the Hilton Hawaiian Resort on Waikiki Beach in honor of the March 25th, 1961 benefit concert held at Pearl Harbor’s Bloch Arena by the “King of Rock n’ Roll”, Elvis Presley. Presley’s concert raised over $62,000 for fundraising efforts to build the new USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. The memorial, honors the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on board the battleship on December 7, 1941. Elvis would always stay at the Hilton Hawaiian village during his many visits to Hawaii and held his pre-concert press conference in the hotel’s Carousel Room on March 25, 1961. Elvis was in Hawaii at the time filming his new feature film, Blue Hawaii.
While the Elvis Presley benefit raised over $60,000 for the USS Arizona Memorial, more importantly, it brought awareness of the cause across the world. With the help of President John F. Kennedy (like Dwight D. Eisenhower, a World War II veteran), the final amount of money was raised for the Arizona Memorial and the Memorial officially dedicated in 1962. Elvis would visit the Arizona Memorial every time he performed in Hawaii.
Today, the USS Arizona Memorial is the most visited location in Hawaii by tourists from all over the world, including Japanese visitors. The oil still leaks from the battleship. Very few of those visitors know that Elvis Presley was a major reason why the Memorial exists today. It is part of the legacy of Elvis Presley that needs to be revealed to a wider audience.
Tim Gray, Filmmaker, Founder, and President of The World War II Foundation Inducted into the Rhode Island Hall of Fame
South Kingstown, Rhode Island-The World War II Foundation is pleased to announce that Filmmaker Tim Gray, President, and Founder of The World War II Foundation was inducted, along with eight other prominent Rhode Islanders, into the State of Rhode Island’s Heritage Hall of Fame on October 23rd, 2021 in ceremonies at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick, RI.
The Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame was established in 1965.
According to their website, the Rhode Island Hall of Fame exists to honor and recognize, and to extol and publicize the achievements of those Rhode Island men and women who have, in the words of the HOF induction citation, “made significant contributions to their community, state, and/or nation.” It is also our mission to tell the story of Rhode Island History via interactive technology using the biographies of our inductees, noting their collective impact upon every phase of Rhode Island’s development.
Gray, a 1989 University of Rhode Island graduate, and 1985 graduate of South Kingstown High School, has written, produced, and directed 31 documentary films chronicling the personal stories of the World War II generation. The films range from 60 minutes to 90 minutes in length.
Tim Gray becomes one of roughly 20 URI graduates to ever be inducted into the RIHoF.
World War II Foundation films rank in the top-5 of most requested programs nationally by PBS and Public Television stations.
Gray is a recipient of American Public Television’s National Programming Excellence Award, in addition to being awarded many regional Emmy Awards and other national film recognition for his work.
Some of the past, current, and future narrators of Gray’s documentaries include Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, Dan Aykroyd, Gary Sinise, Tom Selleck, Jane Lynch, Matthew Broderick, Darius Rucker, Luke Bryan, Greg Kinnear, Jim Nantz, Bill Belichick, Damian Lewis, Greg Gumbel, Jon Seda, Jason Beghe, David McCallum, Liev Schreiber, Kyle Chandler, Tim McCarver, Dale Dye, Shane Taylor, and Peter Kessler.
On June 6, 2012, the World War II Foundation dedicated the Richard D. Winters Leadership Monument in Normandy, France, which has become one of the most visited monuments in Normandy. The 13′ statue recognizes the leadership of all American junior officers on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
The World War II Foundation also inaugurated the Normandie-World War II International Film and Media Festival in France six years ago, the only film festival in the world focused solely on World War II films. It attracts some of the top actors in the world including many from HBO’s Band of Brotherstelevision series.
In 2018, The World War II Foundation dedicated the World War II Global Education Center and Museum in Rhode Island. The center, with over 5,000 original WWII artifacts, a small theater, and a library seeks to educate future generations about WWII. The Center has been called “one of the best small World War II museums in the world.”
In 2019, The World War II Foundation established the Senator Bob Dole World War II Leadership Award, which is now given annually to a veteran of WWII who returned from the war and devoted their lives to public service and educating current and future generations on the subject of World War II.
The World War II Foundation films all its documentaries on location, including film trips to Guadalcanal, Corregidor, Bataan, Manila, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, the Russell Islands, Banika, Peleliu, Japan, Guam, and the Republic of Palau. Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (12 times), Normandy, France (16 trips), Holland, England, Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland (including the Auschwitz and Treblinka Concentration and Death Camp locations), the Czech Republic, Germany, and all over the United States, including the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, where Tim met the President and presented him with 2 of his films. The World War II Foundation currently has another eight films in various forms of production and post-production, including a filming trip to Iwo Jima in 2022.
“To be inducted into the Rhode Island Hall of Fame is a great honor, especially when you look at the names who have entered the RI Heritage Hall of Fame over the past 55 years,” Gray said. ” I can think of many World War II veterans, especially some close friends of mine who landed in the first wave on D-Day at Omaha Beach, who deserve this honor much more than I do,” Gray continued. “That generation saved the world. There is no higher honor than that. I dedicate my induction to all those heroes.”
Tim Gray is a frequent contributor on national television on the subject of World War II.
He is also a visiting lecturer on film and World War II history at Davidson College in North Carolina and offers Zoom internships for Davidson students through the World War II Foundation.
Tim spent the first 15 years of his career as a television sports anchor in many markets across the country including Michigan, Washington State, Florida, and New York, finishing his broadcast journalism career at the NBC affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island.
NEW CLICK HERE to read a feature story from the University of Rhode Island on Tim Gray ’89 and the World War II Foundation Museum.
CLICK HERE for more on URI graduate Tim Gray, his induction into the Rhode Island Hall of Fame and The World War II Foundation.
CLICK HERE to read a feature article about the work of the World War II Foundation in the Marine Corps’ Leatherneck Magazine.
CLICK HERE to be taken to our 2022 World War II Foundation Brochure.
CLICK HERE to see Tim Gray on National Television talking about World War II.
CLICK HERE for April 2021 Feature in the Providence Journal on the WWII Foundation’s work.
CLICK HERE for a 2022 Providence Journal article on our Virtual Reality Films now showing on Oculus and YouTube VR.
CLICK HERE for an NBC10 International Holocaust Day Remembrance Story at our museum.