The World War II-era 105mm howitzer that for 64 years has stood at the intersection of Mount Vernon Avenue and West Main Street in Danville was rededicated Monday during a ceremony attended by veterans from several wars and state and local officials.
Mayor Sherman Saunders said the recently restored cannon serves as a symbol of the sacrifices Americans have made to defend freedom.
“It is only fitting that we are rededicating this cannon on Veterans Day,” said Saunders, a military veteran who served during the Vietnam War. “This howitzer is a symbol of our nation’s resolve to defend our freedom and protect others around the globe. On this Veterans Day, please join me in thanking the veterans who have served and are currently serving our country around the world.”
The howitzer originally was dedicated in 1949 at the site where it stands today. It replaced an older weapon that was part of a memorial for 31 Danville residents who lost their lives during World War I. The older cannon was dismantled as part of a scrap metal drive during World War II.
The restoration of the howitzer took several months. The howitzer was towed earlier this year from the site to a city workshop. The repairs, which were performed by inmates at the Danville Adult Detention Center as part of a work program, included stripping at least five coats of paint from the howitzer, replacing the tires and fabricating replacement parts.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. donated the tires. Loftis Tire Co. mounted the tires. Sherwin-Williams provided the paint. Nick’s Towing moved the howitzer from the site to the workshop and then back to the site.
“I knew when we started that to do this we had to do it right because this cannon had come to mean so much to the people of this community,” said Kurt Walker, a captain at the Danville Adult Detention Center who coordinated the restoration.
The Veterans Day ceremony concluded with the presentation of the Legion of Merit medal to Danville native Col. Lawrence W. Meder, who recently retired after 30 years of service in the Army. The military award is given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.
At the time of his retirement, Meder served as chief of staff of the 364th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) in Seattle. The primary mission of the command is to provide theater logistical operations and support.