- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is easy to be shocked by troops seeming to make fun of the ceremonies honoring dead soldiers. But I suspect that this type of humor actually is a form of psychological cushioning. As I recall, doctors dealing with trauma on a daily basis often have private humor and terms themselves, partly to enable themselves to work in an environment of pain and loss. I also can remember how, when I was a reporter, I quickly become accustomed to standing over a dead body with Miami homicide detectives (“smoker,” “four-waller,” and “potato mouth” were some of their terms of art to describe corpses) and discussing where to get dinner.