Small point, but it is not a 21 gun salute which is reserved for a head of state. It is 3 Volleys which actually harkens back to the Romans (I know, well before firearms), but I believe the practice ws to recite "Vale, Vale, Vale" over the grave. Will look that up.
One source I found stated that it dated to Europe sometime in 16th or 17th century when, in the evening after the battle, each side would observe a cease fire to recover dead and wounded. Following the recovery of dead and wounded, each side would fire three volleys to signify that the dead were recovered and hostilities could then recommence
Last edited by AF-Odin; 03-26-2014 at 16:51..
Reason: More information