The above quote was made by Jerry Schilling, Elvis’ long time buddy. The meeting he referred to was when Elvis met President Nixon in the Oval Office on December 21, 1970. Schilling made the quote while participating last year in a panel discussion presented by the National Archives Administration. It was titled We Were There When Nixon Met Elvis. Schilling was joined on the panel by Emil (Bud) Krogh, Deputy Counsel to the President and the man who oversaw the War on Drugs.
At the panel discussion with Jerry Schilling and Bud Krogh, they were introduced as two men who had participated with their bosses in this historic event. They are the definitive sources for all the strange events which made this story so compelling. They will certainly be utilized as experts by the producers of the recently announced movie Nixon Meets Elvis.
Jerry Schilling and Bud Krogh
I strongly recommend you click here to see the YouTube video of the National Archives panel discussion. It lasts one hour and fifteen minutes, but it is well worth your time. Here are a few teases of what you will hear.
This is the famous six-page letter Elvis wrote to President Nixon. After flying all night from Los Angeles, Elvis went to the White House before dawn and personally gave it to the Secret Service guards and asked that it be delivered to President Nixon. Schilling tells how it shows Elvis was a proud patriotic American, but Schilling and Krogh have a little chuckle about Elvis’ line, “I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist Brainwashing techniques.”
Of course, Elvis wouldn’t visit the White House without taking the President a gift. He chose a valuable WWII commemorative gun he had on the wall of his Bel Aire home. It and seven bullets were mounted in a glass display frame.
The panelists had interesting stories about how the Secret Service ultimately waived White House protocol and let Elvis enter with his gun gift. Schilling also told how Elvis had removed his three concealed pistols and left them on the floor on the limo before approaching the White House.
Elvis had a purpose for his visit to Nixon. He wanted to get an official badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Schilling and Krogh talk about this at some length. When the moderator asked Schilling if Elvis’ had fond memories of the meeting, he answered that Elvis was most proud that he got that badge.
One thing we learn from the discussion was that this iconic meeting was originally kept secret by agreement of both sides. That was difficult because Elvis had come in contact with many government employees as he was shown parts of the White House and ate at the White House Mess. But, the secrecy worked for thirteen months, until columnist Jack Anderson ferreted out what had happened and broke the news.
Schilling and Krogh told some other interesting stories that did not any illustrating images shown on the big screen. There was Elvis’ decision to stop off at a Washington, DC donut shop. Two Superfly types ogled at Elvis’ assortment of rings and other jewelry, and said, “That’s some really nice jewelry.” Elvis pulled out a stub-nosed pistol and said, “And I aim to keep it.”
During his brief tour of the White House, Elvis was taken to the Situation (War) Room. Elvis was a big fan of the movie Dr. Strangelove, and he could speak all the lines of every character. When he entered the War Room, he blurted out a favorite Peter Sellers line, “You can’t fight in the War Room.”
Toward the end of the meeting, Elvis asked if Jerry Schilling and Sonny West could come into the Oval Office, too. After they chatted with Nixon a bit, he went behind his desk and opened a drawer. It had a selection of gift items the President gave to visitors. It was so funny to hear Schilling tell Elvis how moved in and searched through everything to pick out proper gifts for him and his buddies – plus wives & girlfriends.
You probably have heard how Elvis often used the code name Jon Burrows when he travelled. He used that name again on his trip to Washington DC, and on his letter to Nixon. Think about this. How does going under the name of Jon Burrows provide any secrecy when you go through two airports, a hotel lobby, a donut shop and a visit to the White House looking like this?
I’m sure nobody ever figured out he was Elvis.
Again, I urge that you watch “We Were There When Nixon Met Elvis.”
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