After receiving backlash from the University community for canceling the 21-gun salute for its Veterans Day ceremony, University President Jim Ryan released a statement Saturday morning apologizing for the University’s decision.
“Sometimes you make mistakes,” Ryan said. “Although motivated by good intentions, I believe we made a mistake this year in excluding the 21-gun salute from our Veterans Day ceremony.”
As part of its 24-hour vigil, the University’s ceremony notably excluded the decades-old military salute tradition — which typically involves firing rifles from the Amphitheater on Central Grounds — in order to minimize noise disruption to students in class and to prevent concern about gun violence. The decision to end the tribute was made by the University’s provost office and the colonel of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps.
“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,” Ryan said. “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.”
The University’s original decision to remove the practice was subject to scrutiny from community members and the national media. An opinion column in The Cavalier Daily said the removal of the 21-gun salute “demonstrates the administration’s lack of respect for ROTC students who will one day dedicate their lives to defending our nation.”
The College Republicans similarly disagreed with the decision, calling on the University to utilize its existing notification system to alert students of the salute in advance.
“Fear of being disruptive to classes should not be a reason we halt practices to honor those whose very lives were disrupted in the defense of liberty,” their statement read.
Ryan concluded his statement by thanking community members for sharing their views about the topic. “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,” he said.