21 shots symbolize honor


Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

Military honors are recognized through a 21-gun salute.

Maya Adimora, Beyond the Gates editor

You may have seen cannons fired at a U.S. President’s inauguration. Ever wondered what this odd practice is?

It is called the 21-gun salute, a military tradition originating “in the 14th century as firearms and cannons came into use.” (https://bit.ly/3i8wEzg)

All around the world, the 21-gun salute is the highest gun salute used to honor people and recognize special events and occasions. However, the number of gun salutes depends on the recipient’s position.

In the United States, “only presidents and ex-presidents, the sovereign or chief of state of a foreign nation and members of a reigning royal family [can receive 21 gun salutes]. The number of guns decrease with the rank of the recipient of the honor.” (https://bit.ly/3uH202p)

Before 1842, the United States did not have a set amount of rounds fired for the 21-gun salute. The number often varied between 19 and 13 until 1842, with a gun fired for each state. The number of fired rounds was lowered from 26 to 21 in 1841. The only exception to this status quo is the “Salute to the Union.” Fifty rounds are fired for the fifty states at noon on the Fourth of July (Independence Day).

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