University of Virginia cancels 21-gun salute from Veterans Day ceremony

The University of Virginia has canceled the 21-gun salute for its Veterans Day ceremony over concerns that firing weapons on campus could cause "panic" among students.

The salute previously came at the end of the school's 24-hour vigil and Veterans Day ceremony, a tradition for a decade, although it's commonly seen in the U.S. as an honor for visiting dignitaries.

The decision to end the tribute was made by the school provost’s office and the colonel of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC).

"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," UVA President Jim Ryan wrote on his Facebook page announcing the change last week.

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The university did not immediately respond to Fox News for comment.

Jay Levine, a veteran who went through the ROTC program at the school, said the 21-gun salute was the ultimate tribute to those who've served and passed away, WVIR-TV reported.

"I am very disillusioned, very upset, and very surprised that they would make such a decision," Levine said.

"Freedom isn't free," he added. "There's a cost and that cost is born by the veterans and the families of those veterans."

The vigil and Veterans Day event began at 4 p.m. Monday and ends Tuesday, according to the news station.

Ryan said the salute isn't required for Veterans Days ceremonies, as opposed to Memorial Day.

“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.

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“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 continued.

He said the university will "take a look at options for our Veterans Day events," including looking at those that would enable the reintroduction of the 21-gun salute.