Let's get real.

Take a moment. Take a break from your patriotic beer-guzzling and flag waving and look in the mirror this Memorial Day. As an American. As a human being.

Unlike Dick Cheney, I've actually worked with soldiers as a clinical social worker in a V.A. Hospital, both on a psychiatric ward, and in an outpatient drug treatment clinic. I counseled mostly Vietnam vets, but also some Korea veterans. I hung out on the Army base and played basketball in the gym, side by side with the soldiers. I was in my early thirties back then. A lot of my patients were in their early twenties.

Who are they, "The Troops?" You know the exalted ones that so many politicians - who did everything in their power to avoid serving in the military themselves - are always "honoring?" Who are The Troops, and how should we really honor them this Memorial Day?

Let's start by being honest for a change, folks, what do you say?

Idealization is a major defense mechanism, and a dangerous one that causes a lot of damage in our world. When we idealize someone, we dehumanize them in the same way as when we demonize someone. In other words, we make them into something other than real human beings.

The reality? Soldiers, first and foremost are kids. Kids. In most cases, TEENAGERS! By definition, they are fledgling human beings just beginning their search to find themselves, and as such, they are very impressionable and easily influenced. This is one of the main reasons - and please, again, let's be honest - that we recruit kids to fight in the military. We can control them, shape their minds to do our bidding. We can use them because they don't know any better. They are exploitable.

And even better, kids don't understand the concept of mortality, yet. They don't really grasp the preciousness of life. They don't really know that they will die in combat, and simultaneously, they are methodically misled into thinking that anyone they kill is not a real human being, just "The Enemy." Any adult military commander and any politician will admit this if pressed - mature individuals do not make good soldiers. Why? Because they are mature! Because they know better.

So, we send these kids off to fight (We can't even say "off to war" anymore, because it has been more than sixty years since we've fought in a legitimate war.), and then when they come back home, these "heroes," broken physically, shattered mentally, maimed and addicted and plagued with waking nightmares, we neglect them. We do everything in our power to pretend that they're okay. We even badger them not to give in to a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Of course we do. Because except for the likes of sociopaths like Dick Cheney, who could look these destroyed kids in the eyes and face the impossible task of trying to rehabilitate their crushed humanity?

No. We instead idealize these kids as "Heroes" and "The Troops," so we can ignore their suffering, and we demonize the people they killed as "The Enemy" or "Terrorists," so we can ignore what's been done by our unsuspecting kids in our name.

This Memorial Day, you want to honor The Troops? Then give up your childish fantasy lives. Throw away your G.I. Joe dolls and video games. Stop watching Fox News or listening to bloated, drug-addicted lunatics for your information. Face the facts - not just that Ronald Reagan was an B actor who called his wife "Mommy," that George Bush was a spoon-fed nincompoop, and that John Wayne was gay (do the research) - but that The Troops are kids. They need your help to heal, and for all the generations of kids to come, they need you to work on yourself and give up your need for idealized others to act out your violent, heroic fantasies because you feel impotent.

Happy Memorial Day!

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