MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Every Friday, we dig into the mailbag to answer some of your Good Questions. This week, we’re looking at 21-gun salutes and specialized license plates.

For an extra $25 to $30 donation, you can get a specialized Minnesota license plate. Chuck from Zimmerman wants to know: “Where does that money go?”

“With some exceptions, the statutes call for the entire amount of the contribution to go to the sponsoring organizations,” Megan Leonard, a spokesperson with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

The Critical Habitat license plate donation program has generated more than $19 million since 1996 and those donations support land conservation through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The money for the Support Our Troops plates goes to the state Veterans Affairs & Military Affairs Departments who coordinate programs to help troops and their families. The money from the new Minnesota Golf plates is given to the Minnesota Section PGA & Minnesota Golf Association to support military, diversity and youth golf initiatives. Donations toward the collegiate plates go to the Minnesota Academic Excellence Scholarship fund, which offers scholarships to students at Minnesota colleges. In 2010, it generated $70,000.

Lyle from Milaca asks: “Why is it a 21-gun salute?”

The 21-gun salute is performed by the firing of cannons or artillery as a military honor.

This tradition started back in the 14th century. According to the U.S. Navy, warships originally fired seven-gun salutes, likely because seven planets had been identified then or the phases of the moon changed every seven days. But, when the quality of gun powder improved, they tripled the salute, likely because the number three had mystical significance in many ancient civilizations.

David, Paul and Christine asked: “How many Top 10 Weather days do we have each year?”

Technically, we have 20. Ten are in the warm weather months — April through October — and ten are in the cold weather months — November through March.

Heather Brown

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