CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) — UPDATE (Nov. 18):
Photo credit: WVIR
The University of Virginia is reinstating the 21-gun salute for next year’s Veterans Day ceremonies.
The Daily Progress reports that the university is reversing its decision to drop the salute. University President Jim Ryan announced the change on Saturday. In a Facebook post, Ryan wrote, “Sometimes you make mistakes.”
The salute has been part of ROTC ceremonies for at least a decade. It normally occurs at the end of cadets’ 24-hour vigil on Veterans Day,
University officials had said the decision to nix the salute was made to avoid disrupting classes. Ryan also cited concerns about national gun violence and firing weapons on campus.
Larry Sabato, director of the university’s Center for Politics, tweeted that he was glad Ryan reversed course.
ORIGINAL STORY (Nov. 8):
The University of Virginia is coming under fire over a decision to change a part of its annual Veterans Day ceremony.
The university will still hold a Veterans Day ceremony on Monday, but it will no longer include the 21-gun salute. It's a decision UVA leaders say will not change.
The Provost's office, in conjunction with the colonel of UVA's ROTC program, made the decision. The ceremony marks the conclusion of a 24-hour vigil by ROTC cadets and has included the 21-gun salute for more than a decade.
"One is that it would be disruptive to classes and two, unfortunately with gun violence in the U.S., there was some concern that we would cause a panic if someone heard gunshots on grounds," said UVA President Jim Ryan.
Veterans like Jay Levine are upset with the decision. Levine went through the ROTC program at UVA and says the 21-gun salute is the ultimate salute to those who have served and passed away.
"I am very disillusioned, very upset, and very surprised that they would make such a decision," Levine said.
Levine says he will write an email to UVA about his concerns. He hopes talking in a more public setting will help entice more veterans to take action.
"Freedom isn't free," Levine said. "There's a cost and that cost is born by the veterans and the families of those veterans."
UVA spokesperson Brian Coy the university hears and respects the concerns raised by members of the community and will continue to engage in the conversation going forward. Coy says UVA fully supports the solemn observance of Veterans Day.
The 24-hour vigil and Veterans Day ceremony will be held in the McIntire Amphitheatre. It begins at 4 p.m. on Monday, November 11 and will conclude on Tuesday, November 12.