21 Gun Salute

Earlier this year I attended a funeral for a World War II veteran.   I knew from having talked with him over the years that he wanted a full military funeral.   Not because he loved war, or what war represents.   But because he answered the call that was put out to the world when tyranny and horror were being inflicted on innocent people.   He was not a cavalier or prideful man.  He was kind, soft hearted and willing to fight to protect.  He wasn’t a fighter by nature.  But he did fight because he believed he was needed.  And he was proud of having done so because he believed in what he needed to do.

I never heard him speak arrogantly, or with any sense of entitlement.  He was humble.  He was hard working.  He was as average as you and I.   And yet he did something extraordinary.

His life was good.  He was grateful for everything he had.  He was grateful for everything he did.

There was gratitude in his heart for being able to serve America, serve the world, and survive it.  Even being shot in the face, he survived.

I attended his funeral fully prepared for the military service.   It was wonderful to see the friends and family who attended.  The motorcycle club of veterans who rode up to honor him with their flags and their military salute.  When the uniformed officer stood in the doorway of the vestibule I had tears knowing how much this would mean to our veteran.

When the service was over I waited for the 21 Gun Salute.  But people were leaving.  I asked when the 21 Gun Salute would be.   I was told there would not be one.  They didn’t have the people to perform it.  I was heart broken.  I knew he wanted this.  I knew it didn’t matter to him.  But to me, it mattered for him.

It has weighed heavily upon me ever since.

I don’t own a gun.  So I couldn’t even go and give him my own private 21 Gun Salute.   Or I would have.   All I really have is thoughts and ideas.   So in my very humblest way possible, I am giving him a 21 Gun Salute right here.

I looked up a little bit of information.   I know that seven rifles are used and there are three volleys shot.  So I drew seven different types of rifles.  I tried to model my drawings after some of the World War II guns.  My apologies for inaccuracies.  Each gun is drawn individually.   Each gun is drawn in memory of a kind and gentle man who only carried a gun to defend others.

It’s a small tribute to someone who was willing to sacrifice for many.

21 Gun Salute

47 thoughts on “21 Gun Salute

  1. Beautiful tribute. In some ways as he was more a man of peace as you had said, maybe in that way, this is just the kind of 21 gun salute he would have wanted more than with the weapon fire.
    Either way, I am sure from where he is as this stands the test of time on the Internet he now has an even longer lasting salute and remembrance than he would have with the taps firing. I am sure he would appreciate that even more.


    • It is longer lasting isn’t it Niaaeryn. I was so worried about drawing the wrong kind of gun….I drew many different kinds. I know that wasn’t the point. But I wanted to tie it all together. He would have appreciated anyone paying attention to him.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a considerate and very respectful thing to create, Colleen. I find it hard to understand that it was impossible to find appropriate servicemen or women to conduct this important military rite, but I think to bring attention to your friend’s desire and to create a tribute in this way is very meaningful. Well done!


    • Thank you Debra. It just weighed heavily on me for some reason. Probably because we talked about it so many times. He was so proud to have been part of a world wide effort to ‘save’ the world. It was very important to him. I appreciate anyone and everyone who read this and gave him their time and respect.


  3. You have given your 10th Mountain Division the utmost honor, Chatter Master. A very fitting and moving 21 gun salute indeed. I’m sure he and his beloved wife are beaming with pride. Surely, after being shot in the face in the mountains of Italy, you would think he would get the honor he deserves.

    But you know why he was not given his country’s humble thanks in the form of a 21 gun salute… It’s, well, you know. The CIC didn’t even send a rep to the burial services of his top Europe General… Same for the Missing Man formations. The government support has grown so dismal, PRIVATE citizens are flying their OWN planes to perform the honor. Thank goodness for the Patriot Guard.

    At least Mr. Johnson got one and Old Man Jack a recorded Taps.

    You did him just, Chatter Master.


    • I was told that they didn’t have the people to do it. I was stunned. Standing outside was a long line of veterans on their own time to show their respect. The Patriot Guard members were amazing.

      Thank you Koji, I wish it was the real thing he had hoped for.


  4. Colleen,
    A beautiful tribute.

    Veterans that earn a “gun salute”, typically only get a 15-gun salute, which is the standard honor. Only high ranking military officers and dignitaries would receive a “21-gun” salute. Most vetrans who receive military honors at their interments are only entitled to the playing of Taps and the folding and presentation of an American Flag to the next of kin.

    Luckily, in my part of the Country, we have no problems securing whatever honors we need for the veterans we care for.


    • I will say I am not sure if he was ‘entitled’ to a 21 gun salute. Though in talking with him over the years I know he ‘wanted’ it. I don’t know if his status as a Purple Heart recipient or Bronze Star would make him eligible. My father had a gun salute (and like you said, I believe it was 15) but he did not serve over seas in any capacity. I was told at the funeral that they didn’t have enough people to provide the salute. Just knowing he wanted it, and didn’t get it, is what I am sad about for him. THank you very much for the information. 🙂


  5. How sweet Colleen! I know this would mean a lot to him that you took the time to draw him a 21 gun salute. I’m assuming he is a WWII Vet? There really aren’t enough of them left to do this and also the bugle. Did they play the bugel?


  6. I would have been upset had my friend, Sarge, had not had a 21 gun saloot. I was saddened by this post and once you were sad, too. This was a truly lively and memorable post for your W War II Veteran. Glad you cared enough to be there, Colleen.


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