Christmas 1958 was especially hard for Elvis. In August he had lost his beloved mother Gladys. Now, he was stationed in Germany as a soldier in the U.S. Army, far from home and also concerned about his music and film career being on hold.
Elvis' fellow soldiers had decorated the company Christmas tree. They had taken up a collection and given a party for the orphans in nearby Friedberg. Elvis had visited the area promoting the new Salk polio vaccine. On the day that
some of the men were to go on holiday leave and furlough, they had to have all their equipment cleaned and inspected and they could not have their passes before 1700 hours.
From the book Soldier Boy Elvis, by Elvis' platoon sergeant Ira Jones we learn:
Some of the guys were humming and singing Christmas songs. One soldier asked Elvis to show them how he did his Christmas songs. He finished
polishing mirrors in the latrine and then joined the crowd. He told them to "make an instrument." Out came spoons, combs with wax paper, and makeshift drums using tent pins for drum sticks. They sang a rock version of "White
Christmas" with great fervor. It was almost 1700 hours and one soldier asked before they went would Elvis sing "Silent Night." Elvis took the
guitar and asked his sergeant to help him. Recalls Sergeant Jones, "Elvis sang as if in a trance, totally oblivious to the spoons, combs, and tent pins...Somewhere along the way the instruments fell silent and only Elvis' voice could be heard. Those going on pass didn't interrupt. They simply walked silently by Elvis, touched his shoulder and walked out the door. Not another word was spoken after the song until Elvis broke the spell. 'Merry Christmas, everyone,' he said. 'Merry Christmas Elvis!'
they replied in unison."
On Christmas day Sergeant Jones came by the barracks to look in on those not on leave. He expected to find a somber place. Instead the barracks were jumping. Elvis too had thought of the others with nowhere to go and had stopped by with a visiting movie actress. He took the time to introduce her to each soldier before they were
off to see a show in Frankfurt. After he left one soldier told Jones, "'You know, Sarge, that Elvis, he sure does know how to make people feel good." Jones replied, "Amen." And then "Amen!" the guys in the barracks shouted back.