No meeting has ever been bigger than the one that happened today in 1970, when the King of Rock and Roll met the President of the United States.

Richard Milhous Nixon and Elvis Aron Presley came together almost by accident, but when you know what led up to their iconic meeting, you can see why it ended up happening.

Elvis had flown to Washington because he had gotten it in his head that wanted and/or needed a badge from the federal Bureay of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, or even to be named a Federal Agent at Large.

He claimed he wanted to help the federal government push back against the drug-friendly parts of the music industry, though according to the memoir of his wife, Priscilla, Elvis actually thought that if he had a federal agent badge he could carry any kind of substances he wanted anywhere he went.

Whatever the motivation, Elvis hand-wrote a letter to President Richard Nixon on the plane trip to DC, offering his help and saying “I would love to meet you just to say hello if you’re not too busy.”

He and his aide, Jerry Schilling, dropped the letter off themselves at the White House.

Some of Nixon’s people thought this was bonkers, but one of the president’s men was a big Elvis Presley fan, and he convinced Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman that a photo op with Elvis was a good idea.

So Elvis returned to the White House in a purple velvet suit and giant gold belt buckle.

He brought a present for Nixon: a pistol, which the Secret Service took.

(It’s since become a popular item in the collection of the Nixon Presidential Library.)

The two met in the Oval Office, where they talked a little about football and Elvis showed the prez some of his police badge collection.

Then photographer Ollie Atkins took the picture of Nixon and Elvis shaking hands, the one that became the most popular image in National Archives history, the one that’s led to endless amounts of memorabilia and at least one movie.

And the president did direct that the King get one of the badges he wanted, though, for the record, it was 100 percent honorary.

Around this time of year, some animal lovers in New York City gather at a special and mostly secret spot inside Central Park.

It’s where they decorate a pet memorial tree!

December 21, 1970: Elvis Presley Meets President Richard Nixon (National Portrait Gallery) 

The Secret Christmas Tree for Pets in Central Park (Untapped New York)

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White House photograph by Ollie Atkins, via Wikicommons