The historic University of Virginia, which was founded by Thomas Jefferson, canceled the 21-gun salute portion of its Veterans Day celebration, Fox News reports.
For the last ten years, the 21-gun salute would take place after a 24-hour vigil and Veterans Day ceremony, and is a common part of many Veterans Day commemorations around the country.
However, the decision to cancel the salute was announced by Jim Ryan, the president of the University of Virginia, after it was agreed to by the school’s provost office and the colonel in charge of the school’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.
In a Facebook statement justifying the decision, Ryan claimed that it would be “disruptive to classes” and might “cause a panic” due to fears of gun violence on college campuses. Ryan also claimed that the 21-gun salute is not required for Veterans Day the way they are for Memorial Day ceremonies, “which are specifically dedicated to those who have lost their lives in service to our country.”
The decision was criticized by veterans and alumni of the school, including former ROTC student Jay Levine, who said he was “very disillusioned, very upset, and very surprised that they would make such a decision,” adding that “freedom isn’t free…and that cost is borne by the veterans and the families of those veterans.”