Another Memorial Day has come and gone. One of my questions to all: “How did you spend that long weekend?”

Certainly the buildup to any long weekend can be trying. Where do we go, what do we pack, is it more than just a grilling day and what do we do? Memories should always be celebrated.

In our case, we were off to Virginia to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my younger cousin and his wife. Sunday, May 19, was spent traveling to Ashburn, Virginia, to celebrate that wonderful day from 50 years ago with the bride and groom along with their family.

Needless to say, there were many memories to recall and share along with scores of pictures to look at and as always try to remember the names of some of those in the photos. The bride even brought out her wedding dress for all to admire.

Following a wonderful dinner at a local restaurant, we returned to their home for a fantastic South Carolina wedding cake. All eight of us showed some restraint, and there was cake left over for Monday. I must report that some even had cake for breakfast the next morning, it was so good.

On Monday morning, Michelene and I took the opportunity to visit some of the areas in Fairfax, where we had lived. Great memories were everywhere, starting with the condominium I lived in when we first met and where we lived after we were married approximately 48 years ago. So much looked the same, yet different.

We then drove through the neighborhood we lived in upon our return from a tour of duty in Germany. This home had many great memories. While we lived there, I retired from the Army, and, far more important, both of our sons attended and graduated from high school while we lived there.

I am confident that any reader remembers all of those special times when their children were in high school. Children learning to drive, sporting events, swimming on the community swim team at the local pool, their first jobs, traveling to visit colleges – this list just goes on and on! This neighborhood continued to be neat, clean and – most important – totally welcoming, just as it was 30 years ago.

Our next stop was to visit the last neighborhood where we lived in Virginie before moving to Florence. As with the other areas, we found the neighborhood essentially unchanged. While many of the previous neighbors had relocated, the area remained beautiful. Flowers blooming, trees green and providing some shade, yards in great shape, showing that people continue to take great pride in the area.

Here we had the additional pleasure of stopping in to visit with our previous next-door neighbor. Vickie met us at the door with her usual great smile and welcomed us in. Unfortunately, her husband was away on a business trip, and their son was in school, but Vickie thrilled us by updating us on the neighborhood we loved so much.

After this visit, we returned to my cousin’s and again went out to one of their favorite restaurants for dinner, followed by a return to their home for more of that wonderful South Carolina cake.

On Tuesday, the second phase of the trip began as we headed north to Massachusetts to visit with our son and his family. As we were departing Virginia, I did comment that there was one memory of living there I did not miss. The traffic as always was bad. However, that was actually a plus, because it made Five Points look great.

The trip to Massachusetts was relatively uneventful with some minor traffic, lots of wind and very cool temperatures. During our short stay in Massachusetts, we had the pleasure of seeing our grandson play baseball. Half of the game is machine-pitched, then player pitched. Our grandson pitched the top of the fifth inning, striking out two and catching a line drive back to the mound to end the inning. My fond memories of playing baseball years ago came roaring back!

On Friday of that same week, we watched our granddaughter play on the high school varsity lacrosse team. Even though she is only a freshman, she is on the varsity squad and played the entire 50 minutes of the game. I am amazed at many of those girls running on the field for the entire 50 minutes of play. I know when I was a freshman in high school, running for 50 minutes was not in my skill set or my memory.

Of course, our trip was more than seeing the children’s games. Quiet times at home sharing memories is what makes visits special. Great meals and desserts are always remembered, too.

While the grandchildren were in school and their parents at work, Michelene and I did some yard work. OK, yes, it was mostly Michelene. But now, we have the memory of how great the yard looked once she was done.

On Saturday, our grandson was going to a friend’s birthday party. Our son, grandson and I went shopping to help Jackson select a birthday gift. Shopping with a 9-year old is always an experience.

As we were leaving the store, I noticed a lady seated out front who had poppies for Memorial Day. More memories from my youth came flooding back. In the 1950s and ’60s, I remember what seemed to be someone from the American Legion on every downtown block with poppies for us to wear on Memorial Day. It seemed we all wore a poppy in remembrance of those who died protecting our freedoms. Memorial Day is far more than another three-day weekend.

In addition to the aforementioned birthday gift, our son also purchased four small American flags. He told me I was responsible for placing them in the front yard at his house for Memorial Day. As I did, the memory of Tim, Richard, Dick and Andre, who gave their lives for freedoms over 50 years ago, came back to me.

Citizen Columnist Thomas J. Sheehy retired from the U.S. Army following 26 years on active duty. He and his wife of 47 years moved to Florence in 2009. They have two sons and four wonderful grandchildren. Contact Sheehy at