Salute removed from UVA ROTC Veterans Day ceremony

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The University of Virginia ROTC wrapped up a 24-hour marching vigil for Prisoner of War and Missing in Action veterans Tuesday afternoon with a ceremony, but this year the tradition of closing the ceremony with a 21-gun salute was removed.

The 21-gun salute is an important military tradition to honor those who served, but gun violence in the United States made the university decide it's best not to continue the tradition this year.

Daniel Moy, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, attended the ceremony. He said he believes the 21-gun salute is an important part of American culture.

"As a military member, I also value traditions in the military, and the 21-gun salute is a valued tradition that we celebrate [at] many of our memorial sites, especially on Veterans Day," said Moy.

However, he said he understands the university's decision.

"I'd love to see it brought back again in future ceremonies,” said Moy. “But I certainly understand the university's need to consider its own safety and security."

In a Facebook post, UVA President Jim Ryan announced the decision to remove the 21-gun salute saying it was to minimize class disruption and in light of the country's gun violence.

"Unfortunately, with gun violence in the U.S., there were some concerns that we would cause a panic if someone heard gunshots on grounds,” said Ryan in an interview.

His social media post was met with hundreds of comments of people who did not agree with the decision.

However, some people like Tom Brett, the military liaison with the Systems Engineering Department at UVA, said veterans can be honored in other ways.

"The 21 Gun Salute is not the essence of Veterans Day,” said Brett. “The big thing is to show up and show our support for the military and the veterans. And the 21-gun salute is something extra as far as I'm concerned."

Ryan said he has been paying attention to the community’s responses and that the university will look into options to possibly re-introduce the 21-gun salute to the ceremony in the future.

Read Ryan's full Facebook Post by clicking on the link in the Related Links box.

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