UVa ROTC vigil

ERIN EDGERTON/THE DAILY PROGRESS Virginia’s Air Force ROTC William Sexton (left) and Otto Medinilla perform vigil duty on Veteran’s Day at UVa’s McIntire Amphitheater.

The University of Virginia has backed off its decision to nix the 21-gun salute from future Veterans Day events.

On Saturday, President Jim Ryan said the salute will be reinstated next year.

The traditional three-volley rifle salute, referred to colloquially as a 21-gun salute, normally occurs at the closing ceremony for UVa ROTC cadets’ 24-hour vigil on Veterans Day.

The salute has been a part of the UVa ROTC ceremony, which specifically honors prisoners of war and those missing in action, for at least a decade. Virginia Tech ROTC cadets hold a similar ceremony every year and include a rifle volley.

The Daily Progress initially wrote about UVa's decision to drop the salute on Nov. 2. At the time, officials said the decision was made in order to avoid disrupting nearby classes.

In his post, Ryan said he also made the decision in recognition of "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.”

Ryan wrote that after attending the ceremony on Nov. 11 and speaking with the commander in charge, “I am confident that we can accommodate a 21-gun salute.”

He wrote that the salute will be reinstated next year and officials 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 wrote.

Larry J. Sabato, director of UVa’s Center for Politics, wrote on Twitter that he was glad Ryan reversed course.

“The 21-gun salute in our Veterans Day ceremony is a treasured part of the University’s demonstration of its gratitude to America’s veterans,” Sabato wrote. “We all make mistakes, and we all need wisdom and humility to correct our errors. Thank you to President Jim Ryan for doing the right thing. Now let’s move forward together without rancor or second-guessing to focus on the big challenges ahead.”

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City hall reporter

Nolan Stout is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7274, nstout@dailyprogress.com, or @nstoutDP on Twitter and Facebook.

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