🔷 Memorial Day

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Memorial Day

This weekend we honor Memorial Day, a US federal holiday that remembers military personnel who’ve died while serving.

Origin Story

The exact beginnings of Memorial Day are a bit murky, but here’s what we know: it originated during the American Civil War when citizens placed flowers on the graves of those killed in battle.

After the war ended, communities wanted to remember the fallen and began to host regular observances for the families to come together and decorate the graves.

In 1868, a dude named John A. Logan formalized it by proposing a national holiday on May 30th “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”

OK, he just wasn’t any dude. He was a Congressman who left office and entered the Union Army as a colonel to fight in the Civil War.

He was good enough to survive the war and be promoted to major general, only to leave the Army when the war ended, switch political parties, and return to Congress—putting him a unique position to come up with a way to remember the fallen.

Memorial Day was initially a sobering day of memories, emotions, and tears.

But as time passed, families aged, people became more removed from their fallen relatives, and the holiday slowly morphed away from dwelling on the losses and instead pivoted towards appreciating the sacrifices.

Memorial Day is now a day of thankfulness and appreciation for the freedom afforded by those losses.

Stuff You Didn’t Know
  • Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day from 1868 until after World War II

  • The holiday wasn’t officially renamed Memorial Day until 1967

  • On the first Decoration Day, 5,000 volunteers decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in Arlington National Cemetery, kickstarting a tradition that lives on today

  • The holiday used to be May 30th but was changed in 1971 to create more 3-day weekends (#winning)

  • May 30th was initially chosen as the day simply because there were no Civil War battle anniversaries at the end of May

  • After World War I, the holiday expanded to honor those who died in all of America’s wars

  •  1.1 million Americans have died in war

  • On Memorial Day 1921, the first unknown soldier in Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery was selected from four exhumed graves in France

  • Every Memorial Day, there is a ceremonial laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns

In That Number

First 40

The Air Force revealed its negotiated fixed-price production options for the first 40 B-21 bombers.

The service plans to buy 100 B-21 bombers and is keeping the door open for more.

TRIVIA

This week’s military trivia is in honor of National Hamburger Day! (Tuesday, May 28th)

The hamburger is named after the locale of its origin: Hamburg, Germany. During World War I, with strong social opposition to Germany, Americans referred to the hamburger by what other name instead?

A. liberty sandwich
B. freedom sandwich
C. patty grinder
D. beef slider

On the Radar

The Army is sending more directed energy weapons to the Middle East to see how they perform. Soldiers were apparently not impressed with the last directed energy prototypes sent to the Middle East, which were Strykers outfitted with 50-kilowatt lasers.

  • The Merge’s Take: This time is different—much different. These are high-power microwave (HPM) prototypes from Epirus that were just delivered to the Army last week, which tells you how interested the Army is in seeing them in action countering drones. We’ve got way more intel on this—stay tuned!

 

The Pentagon asked Congress to establish an Indo-Pacific Security Assistance Initiative to deliver weapons to Taiwan and other friendly militaries in the region and wants to start with a $500m appropriation. This is modeled after the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).

  • The Merge’s Take: Two things to keep an eye on that could make this a very compelling instrument for Chinese deterrence. First, if it includes the same type of Presidential Drawdown Authority that USAI has—this would enable the rapid transfer of US equipment to Taiwan, which would be replenished with funds from this program. The other is out-of-cycle appropriations that avoid the onerous multi-year budget-building process that everyone loves to hate—the PPBE.

 

Russia launched a counter-space weapon. This is a satellite in low Earth orbit—the same orbit as a US satellite—and is assessed to have a deployable payload. This smaller satellite could either be a kamikaze satellite or possess the ability to fire a projectile.

  • The Merge’s Take: This type of information would been highly classified just a few years ago, but the calculus for ‘concealing and revealing’ technical capabilities in the space domain is rapidly-changing.

 

Ukraine’s drone boats can now fire salvos of rockets. It's TBD how effective firing unguided rockets from a small boat bobbing in the water is, but the video looks cool (no impacts shown, driving accuracy speculation).

  • The Merge’s Take: Don’t let that distract you from the fact that Ukraine also revealed it now has the world’s first drone boat armed with anti-aircraft missiles. Its latest config can shoot 2 AA-11 Archer missiles.

  • The Merge’s Spicy Take: Don’t let this distract you from the fact that Hector is going to be running three Honda Civics with Spoon engines, and on top of that, he just went into Harry’s and bought three T66 turbos with NOS and a MoTeC system exhaust. 🤣

They Said It
“an equal opportunity bully.”

— Lt. Gen. Stephen Sklenka, Deputy Commander of US Indo-Pacific Command, on China’s recent ‘practice blockade’ of Taiwan.

 

Our latest podcast just dropped! We dive into Ukraine’s rapidly developing defense industry with a US company that just established the country’s first privately-funded defense tech accelerator.

Check it out on YouTube or download the podcast on SpotifyApplePandoraiHeartRadio, or wherever you get your content!

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