The Dichotomy of Black Humor and Memorialization

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Likely, you’ve heard about how important black humor is for soldiers. The ability to make dark fun of whatever situation you may find youself in is super important for soldiers leaning off of the edge of the world. Cadences that ask to “bury me in the lean and rest” (the push-up position) or Blood Upon the Risers highlight the theme of black humor in the Army.

And then, Animal Mother’s famous quip “Better you than me” when looking down at two dead Marines in Vietnam put the nail in the coffin.

Troopers use black humor as a way to desensitize themselves to terirble situations. What’s interesting to me, is the way that the black humor transitions to the way troops are memorialized. Military funerals are often very, very sad affairs. Whenever I find myself running in formation and a cadence comes around screaming “bury me in the lean and rest” I can’t help but think if anyone has ever actually requested that as part of their funeral. Blood Upon the Risers tells the story of a paratrooper who jumps to his death, his parachute never opening, and it’s sung in an upbeat, ‘hey-it-happens’ manner. I’ve always been struck by the strange dichotomy of the black humor of the military and the hardcore memorializing that happens when someone dies.

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