The decision by University of Virginia officials to conduct classes during the one-hour solemn observance of Veterans Day by ROTC cadets and to cancel the traditional 21-gun salute, ostensibly “to avoid class disruptions due to noise,” invites reconsideration.

A 21-gun salute on Veterans Day honors all veterans, living or dead. Sharp reports carry all in earshot to some distant battlefield. The din of these volleys recalls the dangers faced, the perils borne, the souls lost. Listeners hear — and perforce imagine — how loudly, how swiftly, how terribly life ends.

Patrick Henry observed, “The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.”

Once a year, ought we not disturb our daily routines, whether in or out of the classroom, and resoundingly salute the vigilant, the active and the brave veterans who safeguarded our freedoms?

It is not too late to reinstate the 21-gun salute.

D. Gray Heppner

Albemarle County

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