The University of Virginia has reinstated its traditional 21-gun salute for Veterans Day after banning it for this year's ceremonies over concerns the salute could cause a "panic" among students due to "gun violence in the U.S."
What's the background?
UVA President Jim Ryan told WVIR-TV prior to this year's Veterans Day that the salute "would be disruptive to classes, and two, unfortunately with gun violence in the U.S., there was some concern that we would cause some panic if someone heard gunshots on grounds."
The provost's office and the colonel of the school's ROTC program made the decision to not do the salute, WVIR noted, which added that university officials said the decision will not change.
Once word got out about UVA's move, the story went viral, and more than a few folks didn't take kindly to the school's decision.
One of the critics was veteran Jay Levine who went through the UVA ROTC program and told WVIR he was upset by the school's decision, noting the 21-gun salute is the ultimate acknowledgment to deceased U.S. service members.
"I am very disillusioned, very upset, and very surprised that they would make such a decision," Levine told the station, adding that "freedom isn't free. There's a cost, and that cost is borne by the veterans and the families of those veterans."
Image source: WVIR-TV video screenshot
'Sometimes you make mistakes'
Ryan soon announced the school's about-face on the matter on Facebook over the weekend, offering his "sincere apologies to any who may have doubted our commitment to honoring our veterans, whom we hold in the highest esteem and who deserve our gratitude":
Sometimes you make mistakes. Although motivated by good intentions, I believe we made a mistake this year in excluding the 21-gun salute from our Veterans Day ceremony. Having attended the ceremony, and having consulted with the Commander in charge, I am confident that we can accommodate a 21-gun salute, which had been a meaningful feature of the ceremony in years past. We will therefore reinstate the 21-gun salute next year, and we will make sure to minimize any disruptions to classes and communicate the details of the ceremony in advance. Thanks to all who shared their views about this topic, and my sincere apologies to any who may have doubted our commitment to honoring our veterans, whom we hold in the highest esteem and who deserve our gratitude.
Ryan's post garnered several hundred comments, many thanking him for reinstating the salute and showing humility. But one commenter said the president was "still missing the point."
"You shouldn't be concerned that the salute might be a disruption. It should be a disruption!" Sandy Edgar Barrett wrote. "Every student should be aware that it is a tribute to our Veterans and should be appreciated and met with reverence! Next year when my high school graduating class meets to celebrate their 55th year reunion, they will not be talking about their
college parties, but their branches of service during the Vietnam war! College students should be taught that attending college (though earned) is still a privilege!"
Here's the original WVIR news clip about the 21-gun salute ban:
(H/T: Campus Reform)