Yesterday, the University of Virginia stopped a time-honored military demonstration on Veterans Day. The 21-gun salute is an internationally recognized tribute to military veterans and leaders. But because it involved firearms, the university’s president believed that “gun violence” required its abolition.
The gun salute began as a tradition in international waters, as ships from opposing nations would fire their ammunition harmlessly into the ocean as a display that their ammunition could be fired at in their direction, but that they mean no harm to one another. Three-volley salutes are used to honor deceased veterans. The 21-gun salute is used to honor the United States President as the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Services (a 19-gun salute is used for the Vice President, and 17 for state governors).
However, the University of Virginia thought that the use of firearms on campus would trigger gun violence. Jim Ryan, president of the university, told the students…
“Related to this year’s ceremony, the Provost’s Office and Col. Michael Hough, commanding officer of UVA’s Air Force ROTC detachment, worked closely together in making the decision to eliminate the 21-gun salute for two reasons: first, to minimize disruptions to classes, given that this event is located at the juncture of four primary academic buildings and is held at a time that classes are in session. And second, recognizing concerns related to firing weapons on the Grounds in light of gun violence that has happened across our nation, especially on school and university campuses.”
Students and veterans immediately began to complain via social media.
An op-ed with the Daily Progress, says the university is sending an “unfortunate message about students: That they are too fragile, too delicate, too distractible to deal with the interruption of the salute. that they are too insular, too wrapped up in Their own worlds to comprehend and accept this longstanding practice. That they must be protected from the reality that exists outside academia.”
The standard operating procedure by honor guards is to use blanks, which are cartridges with ammunition but no projectile. This results in the military-issue M1 rifle to need repeated charging between rounds. When canons are used for the salute, blanks are also used (no actual cannonballs or bullets are fired over civilian populations in such salutes).
Additionally, those placed within such honor guards are highly trained, professional soldiers.
No one in the history of mankind is known to have died from a weapon discharged in a 21-gun or another kind of military salute.