The recent decision to suspend the military 21-gun salute during the University of Virginia ROTC memorial service for veterans is appalling and extremely disrespectful to those of us who served in the military and live in this UVa community.
The 21-gun salute is a honored military tradition that indicates goodwill and respect, and its use is not indiscriminant. It’s only executed when the highest honor is called for.
UVa ROTC students are learning military traditions, including respect for those who went before them in the military and especially for the members who gave their lives — many of whom were former UVa students.
I understand that the reasons for canceling the 21-gun salute may be due to gun violence in schools and the noise associated with the firing of 21 shots from small arms rifles. However, I strongly feel that UVa President Jim Ryan’s office could have informed all the students that the salute would occur at a specific time and suggested that a moment of silence be taken from their study time in order to remember those who served in our military.
These brave military men and women are the reason the students are able to sit in class and enjoy the freedoms that they have. Taking away the freedom for the ROTC unit to express its respect is not a way to show support for our veterans, the ROTC units and the great country we live in.
We should not shield our young adults from the noise and startle effect of a 21-gun salute. The volley is intended to get your attention and promote reflection on the reason for the salute. This generation of students needs to be stronger than ever, not coddled and protected from reality, in my opinion.
If UVa cannot support honorable military tradition of a 21-gun salute for military veterans, than I suggest that all ROTC units leave UVa and affiliate with other colleges and universities in Central Virginia that appreciate and respect the military traditions that come with hosting ROTC units on campus.
My support for UVa and its administration has ended. Ask yourself if Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe would support this decision to ban a 21-gun salute to veterans on a school day, or any day.
Steven J. Trotta