I first went to Memphis in June 2007 and made four trips till September 2010. On my first three visits, I could not make it to Graceland due to my work commitments. However, when I went the fourth time, I was certain that I would be visiting Graceland on that trip because that would have been my last trip to Memphis for the time being, as I was moving to another job in couple of months after the trip. Graceland is listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1991 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2006. It is the most visited private home in US second only to the White House.
Memphis is a city in the U.S. state of Tennessee and is located on the banks of the Mississippi River. It is among 20th largest cities in the USA. Memphis is connected with direct flight with most of the American cities. It is primarily known for:
- Being home to Fortune 500 Company known as FedEx - it is a rare sight at the airport in the evening and mornings at Memphis airport when you can see two planes taking off simultaneously. I understand from the locals that every day after 6.00pm about 400 flights land at the Memphis airport from various cities with cargo and take off before 4.00am to their respective destinations.
- After being mentioned in many of John Grisham's novels it found itself in the plot of some of the most iconic movies like The Silence of the Lambs, The Rainmaker and Cast Away among many others.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis on 4th April 1968
- Graceland was once home of the music legend Elvis Presley, and now a museum. Elvis died on 16th August 1977 and until he died, this was his home.
In 2013, USA Today readers had voted Beale Street in Memphis as America's Best Iconic Street and Graceland as the Best Iconic American Attraction. The National Civil Rights Museum (the Lorrraine Motel, the site of Martin Luther King's assassination) was third in the poll. Graceland is the second most visited house in United States after the White House. In 2006, when US President George W. Bush hosted Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for a tour of the mansion, it became one of the few private homes in US other than the White House, an Embassy, or any of the other Presidential retreats to have hosted a joint-visit by a sitting US president and a head of a foreign government.
Finally, I made it to Graceland on my fourth trip to Memphis. The experience was amazing and well worth it. It was nice to see the house maintained in such a way even after 32 years of Elvis's death. Apart from the house, there were 2 airplanes in the museum that had been bought by Elvis and were used by him; one of them named after his daughter, Lisa Marie. There is a huge collection of cars on display that were owned by Elvis. The Museum also contains many artefacts, like some of his famous jumpsuits, awards, records and many other things associated with him.
When we entered the house, we were given the headsets along with a handset. As we moved along the house, at each place, like the living room, music room, shooting range and trophy room there was a number mentioned which we had to press on the handset to hear the description on our headsets. All these were in such a well maintained that it seemed as if Elvis had just stepped out of the house and would be back soon. It was a nice trip down the memory lane.
The most important things which I got to know on my trip to Graceland (and liked the most) was the fact that during his lifetime, Elvis was a big supporter of various charities in and around Memphis. He was regularly supporting more than sixty charities throughout - by way of benefit concerts as well as direct contributions. In recognition of his many charitable contributions to the city over a long period of time, both Memphis Mayor William Ingram and Tennessee Governor Buford Ellington declared October 29, 1967 as “Elvis Presley Day" in the state. Knowing this, made me bow my head in front of Elvis as a mark of respect. Before I had visited Graceland, I appreciated Elvis for his achievements as an artist but after the visit, appreciation has converted into admiration and respect for him as a person for all he contributed and did for the society. I wish that I could do even a fraction of what he did for the society.
If you happen to be visiting or planning a trip to the United States, then Memphis should be on your "places to visit" list, especially a trip to Graceland and The National Civil Rights Museum.
By the way, don't forget to buy miniature guitars from the gift shop. I bought two and they are still adoring the soft board on the wall at my home. I wish I had bought few more as whomever I tell about the trip and Elvis, wants one of them.