Guns, cannons, and all other firearms: they are weapons. They kill. They have killed, and they will kill. That is their sole purpose.
So why is it that we fire such things out of respect? At Edinburgh Castle the cannons are fired everyday. Guns are fired as a mark of respect on the Queen's birthday and any other celebrations of this kind.
Upon a little bit of research, I have found that the firing of such weapons is known as a kind of salute. Specifically, the firing of cannons for this purpose supposedly originates from the navy, where the firing of a cannon partially disarmed a ship, thus showing its trustworthiness.
And I suppose that in the context of war memorials, firing weapons can act as an installment of empathy. To hear the sound of a few gun shots may inspire people to think of the hundreds of shots soldiers are surrounded by on a daily basis. And not just the shots, but the lives that they're stealing.
I just find it strange that weapons are used in such a way. Perhaps it isn't a bad thing, as using weapons in salutes gives them positive uses, and therefore some positive connotations.
But I can't help but feel that it can never be right to use weapons in this way. Because weapons kill. They take lives and with them they ruin the lives of those who cared for the dead. There's only so much respect one can feel when these thoughts are brought to mind.