The University of Virginia (UVA) canceled a 21-gun salute to veterans on Monday because of concern it could “cause a panic.”
UVA President Jim Ryan confirmed in a Facebook post that the university will remove the annual 21-gun salute from the end of its Veterans Day events, a tradition that’s been a part of the ceremony 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," Ryan told NBC29.
The university is facing some backlash for the salute’s cancellation, including from veteran Jay Levine who attended the ROTC program at the university.
"I am very disillusioned, very upset, and very surprised that they would make such a decision," Levine told NBC29.
University spokesperson Brian Coy told the news outlet that UVA hears and respects the concerns brought up and supports Veterans Day.
Ryan said in the Facebook post that the 21-gun salute is “not a required, or even typical” element of Veterans Day ceremonies.
“But given that the 21-gun salute is not a required, or even typical, part of Veteran’s Day ceremonies — as opposed to Memorial Day ceremonies, which are specifically dedicated to those who have lost their lives in service to our country — they chose to keep the ceremony at a central location on Grounds but leave out the 21-gun salute,” he wrote. “That seemed to me, and still seems, a reasonable accommodation, given the 24-hour vigil and the other solemn and respectful elements of the ceremony.”
He said in future years UVA will “take a closer look at options for our Veterans Day events,” including the option of re-establishing the 21-gun salute.
The 24-hour vigil began at 4 p.m. Monday and will conclude on Tuesday.