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21 vs three-volley salutes

Memorial Day consists of a number of traditions designed to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, defending the country in times of war.

Among the customs are the three-volley salutes.

The three-volley rifle salute originated as a way to halt fighting to remove the dead from the battlefield, according to the Arlington National Cemetery website.

Once each army had cleared its dead, soldiers fired three volleys to indicate the dead had been cared for and fighting could resume.

"A gun is an artillery piece and they shoot it 21 times," said Ray Thompson, Belfield American Legion Post 44 adjutant. "We're just doing rifle volleys. We do the same thing on Memorial Day as we do at funerals."

Despite seven riflemen in the firing party firing three volleys, it is not a 21-gun salute, which is used for times such as when the president passes away.

Belfield Legion members will be a part of an honor guard at the Memorial Day service, he added.

Brian Benesh, Dickinson veteran and Dickinson's Memorial Day services organizer, said sometimes the salutes can be confused with one another.

"There are many theories out there as to how it started," he said.

The Memorial Day service in Dickinson is at 10 a.m. in May Hall at Dickinson State University.

The service in Belfield is at 10 a.m. at the Belfield Theatre, with a luncheon to follow at Memorial Hall.

"Technically, Memorial Day is to honor the ones that were killed in action in all the wars, although we do recognize veterans that have since died," Thompson said.

r Flowers and memorials may be placed in Dickinson cemeteries beginning Thursday at 5 p.m. Flowers and memorials which are not permanently attached to a monument in an approved vase must be removed by 5 p.m. on Monday, June 14, according to a press release from the city.