Brookland-Cayce cannon and veteran memorials are refurbished for Veteran’s Day

The memorials to veterans at Brookland-Cayce High School have been rehabilitated just in time for Veteran’s Day.

Johnny Knight, who works in the Lexington Two School District’s maintenance department, wanted to clean up some war memorials on the grounds of BC. There is a cannon that has sat in front of the school for 75 years. It needed to be cleaned. It was discolored and had layers of rust and grime on it.

Mandy Odum and Johnny Knight

“I just worked on it and cleaned it up,” Knight said. Using a special mix of cleaning products Knight brought the cannon and the wooden spoked-wheeled carriage it sits on, back to life.

At another part of the school yard, there is a plaque that was dedicated on Veteran’s Day in 2003. It has been pressure washed and an area containing a field of patriotic flags has been spruced up. Two Civil War cannon balls, taken from the Congaree River in West Columbia, sit on top of a stone entrance on State Street. Those have been repainted.

“It really needed to be done,” Knight said. He originally thought the clean-up would be a good Eagle Scout project for his son, a BC freshman, but the process to get it done via the Boy Scouts was too lengthy. Knight wanted the monuments to be ready for Veteran’s Day.

In addition to the cleaning, Lexington School District Two will install a plaque for the cannon. The plaque will have a QR code that links to a website with information about Brookland-Cayce’s WWII relics and monuments.

Hiram Manuel left Brookland-Cayce in 1942 at age 16, to fight in WWII. When he got back from the war, he graduated from BC in 1947, after serving as the school’s student body president. He obtained the cannon for BC. Manuel died in 2012, but Knight, via Facebook, was able to find Mandy Odum, Manuel’s daughter who lives in Columbia.

“Dad spoke of the cannon often,” Odum said. “It was a big part of our lives. I worked on State Street for a number of years, and Dad and I would often go by and see the cannon in front of the school. “It was a source of pride to Dad and to our family, because it represented the sacrifice of so many Brookland-Cayce students.  “Dad loved BC and Cayce. We loved to hear him tell the story of how the cannon got there.”

Hearing of the sacrifice that Manuel made as a teen inspired Knight.

“He was a real hero,” Knight said. He has met with Odum and Knight said she is very pleased and touched that a plaque will be added to the cannon to commemorate her father’s service and work he did, soliciting the US War Department, to get the cannon placed at BC. Below is a photo of Odum with her father.

Before and after cannon
Stone wall with cannon balls

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