What is the meaning behind a 21 gun salute? Former president Donald Trump was greeted with a 21 gun salute before his departure speech yesterday, 20 January. What is the history behind this tradition?

Donald Trump departure marked by 21 gun salute

Yesterday, 20 January, marked the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, a historic day for the US and an event that millions of people around the world tuned into.

This day also marked the official send-off of former president Donald Trump, who gave a farewell speech in front of a small crowd at Joint Base Andrews.

Donald Trump received a 21-Gun Salute during his departure rally, USA Today has reported.

“We will be back in some form,” Trump told his supporters at the ceremony, which also featured a military band playing Hail To The Chief.

Trump added: “Have a good life. We will see you soon.”

21 gun salute meaning explained

The tradition of gun salutes goes back to the times of early warriors, when it was customary to lay one’s weapons on the ground, demonstrating peaceful intentions to the other party.

The tradition evolved into a cannon salute around the 14th century, according to the US Army Center of Military History.

When ships entered a foreign port and wanted to show their good intentions, they would fire seven gun salutes. The explanation behind this varies, from a reference to the Bible to the idea that ships only had seven guns.

Meanwhile, land batteries, which had access to more gunpowder, would fire 21 times – three for each shot made by an incoming ship.

As of today, the 21 gun salute is used to “honor a national flag, the sovereign or chief of state of a foreign nation, a member of a reigning royal family, and the President, ex-President and President-elect of the United States”, the US Army Center of Military History explains.

The Twittersphere reacts

People on Twitter shared their reactions to Trump’s 21 gun salute.

One user wrote: “I don’t begrudge giving Trump a 21-gun salute as he left. But the timing was off. His chopper hadn’t left the ground yet!”

CNN anchor Jim Acosta shared a video from the ceremony and tweeted: “Trump gets his 21 gun salute.”

“21 gun salute as Trump takes stage,” tweeted Jordan Fabian alongside a similar video from Trump’s departure speech.

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