Staten Island Web logo



21 Gun Salute Diane J DJ Lost dianejmsn@hotmail.com Why are there 21 guns in that salute?

No, it's got nothing to do with any card game. And it's not
because the person being honored has come of legal age. But
it's curious that the number should be so specific and that we
just accept it without ever questioning why.

The 21-gun salute originated as a British naval custom. The
reason for any cannon shot being offered as a salute was that
firing a round meant that the gun was disarmed for the
considerable amount of time it took to reload. This period of
disarmament, even more than the bang, was the real sign of
respect. A person of great stature was given a multi-shot
salute, but always an odd number because sailors thought even
numbers brought bad luck. Heads of state got the maximum, 21
guns, because that's how many cannon were mounted on the side
of a major ship of the line.



Staten Island WebŪ Forums Index.