Watch CBSN Live

We Called It Decoration Day

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

When I was a kid we called it decoration day. I thought we called it decoration day because we all decorated our bikes with red, white and blue streamers, and we'd follow the parade that ran through my home town.

The parade ended at the VFW hall and the World War II vets would stand in the parking lot sharing a laugh and a beer. We kids knew these were the guys who beat the Nazis and these were the guys who fought in Guadalcanal.

No we didn't know that decoration day started after America's Civil War and that women would go to the graves of union soldiers, and yes, decorate them.

Decoration day became Memorial Day some years back, and when it did we stopped remembering Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer.

Those young men in the VFW parking lot have passed on, and a lot of people didn't want to remember Vietnam and today a lot of people don't want to think about Iraq. More than three thousand service people have died there since the war began, we shouldn't let this day go by without remembering them.
By Harry Smith

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue