Peggy Sue | Mark’s Remarks

Remember the movie “Peggy Sue Got Married?” It starred Kathleen Turner and was a time travel movie with some pretty good acting. I remember what a good job Turner did convincing us she was a teenager at one point and a grown woman other times.

If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it.

One scene in that movie resonates with many of us at this time of the year. We celebrate Memorial Day and we honor the men and women who sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for us. We wear red, white and blue. We sing patriotic songs.  We say the pledge and sing the anthem. In the movie, Peggy Sue has gone back in time and is once again standing with her classmates in 1960, saying the pledge. Peggy, who has grown up and realizes what it means to be patriotic, says the pledge with her whole heart, proudly (and loudly) saying it while her other teenage classmates look at her in amazement.

Back in those days, we really didn’t understand fully what the pledge or singing the national anthem was all about.  As young folks, we seldom thought of sacrifice and loss of life when we stood to say the pledge every day. We rolled our eyes or droned along in the cadence that usually accompanies teenage attitude. Sadly, many of us still act that way when saying the pledge or singing patriotic songs.

If it doesn’t affect us personally (at least we don’t always realize it),  we don’t get it.

Peggy Sue had gone back 25 years. She already knew that classmates would be seeing things like the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, and the rest of the turbulent 1960s. In a few years, they would realize how great it was to live in a free country, and they too would relish the days of standing and saying the pledge.

Wouldn’t it be great to feel that patriotism right down to our core, just like the over-exuberant Peggy Sue?

I know men who have been to war and won’t talk about it much. There are some who still experience post-traumatic stress disorder several decades later.  I know a man who, along with the other men in his group, had to watch soldiers crucified by the enemy, unable to do a thing because it would have meant the loss of many, many men. Terrible, horrific atrocities that even when explained to us are simply too much to fathom.  And they were there fighting for us.

On Sunday morning, my church had a wonderful Memorial Day celebration.  Our choir, decked out in the three colors, sang a medley of songs from each branch of the military. As we sang about a certain branch, a representative from each marched down the aisle with the flag representing that branch. As they marched, men from our church who had served stood to the applause of the church. Standing in the choir, I found it difficult to sing.  Watching the whole thing, especially those men standing proudly, was incredibly moving.

I’ve had some awesome students over the years, but when I give my little speech about what it means to pledge allegiance to our country, they probably take it lightly. After all, they are kids. But it is my prayer that we all remember, not only on Memorial Day, but every day, what these men and women went through, what they still go through, and what their families and loved ones have gone through.

Peggy Sue knew what she was doing.

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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