Budapest’s burning love

Elvis is a hero to most in Hungary
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Elvis Presley Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Budapest’s burning love
Torbjorn Andersson/CP

On Wednesday last week, Budapest’s city council voted in favour of naming Elvis Presley an honorary citizen. Presley endorsed the hard-fought but unsuccessful 1956 Hungarian uprising against the Communist government when, on Jan. 6, 1957, he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and performed the gospel song Peace in the Valley in dedication to the Hungarian rebels. It was the last song of his set and would be his last time ever on the Sullivan show. “The reasons for honouring Elvis are not sentimental but political,” said István Tarlós, mayor of Budapest, according to the Guardian. Indeed, Sullivan collected donations from the TV audience, in the order of some 25 million Swiss francs, to donate to a Hungarian relief fund.

The honorary citizenship isn’t Hungary’s first commemoration of “the King.” Earlier this March, Budapest also named a park in his name, part of a nationwide effort to remove names given during the Communist era. It’s perhaps understandable why war and peace were on Presley’s mind. Two days after his Sullivan appearance, the Memphis draft board announced that the 22-year-old would inducted into the army.