Residents of Crenshaw County, Alabama, on Sunday witnessed the dedication of a new Confederate memorial honoring unknown Civil War soldiers in the midst of the Confederate monument controversy that has plagued the nation in recent weeks.
The monument, a simple gravestone design, bears the words, "Unknown AL Soldier CSA" and the quote, "Mother, I have been found, I am home."
The memorial sits in Confederate Veterans Memorial Park, which is situated 55 miles south of Montgomery.
According to AL.com, approximately 200 people attended the unveiling Sunday in a ceremony dedicating the "Unknown Alabama Confederate Soldiers" monument, which was designed to honor Alabama's fallen and forgotten soldiers of the Civil War era.
In celebration of the monument's unveiling, several Confederate flags were flown in the park and citizens dressed in Confederate Army garb were in attendance, including members of The Daughters of the Confederacy, The Sons of Confederate Veterans, and several Civil War re-enactors.
Why the monument was erected
The owner of Confederate Veterans Memorial Park, David Coggins, said that the gathering was not that of white supremacists or racists but of citizens who aimed to commemorate and memorialize Confederate soldiers.
"It's important that we remember our heritage, and it's very important we remember our history," Coggins explained, according to the Washington Post, "for those people that forget their heritage ... are doomed to repeat it again."
During Coggins' introductory remarks at the memorial, he said, "That's why we're here is to honor our Confederate dead, to honor our ancestors."
"That's why I'm in it, that's what it's all about. We should all be proud of our Confederate ancestors," he added.
The Charlottesville effect
Coggins told AL.com that the event had been scheduled months prior to the Charlottesville, Virginia, attack which killed one and injured scores more.
About the fallout from the Charlottesville controversy, Jimmy Hill, who is commander of the Alabama division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said, "We have been really scrutinized for the past two weeks. This has been in the works for nine months, but because we put it on the website two days after [the Charlottesville clashes], the media put that together."
Local resident Vann Royal told the website that the memorial is appropriate in light of the dismantling and displacing of Confederate monuments around the country.
"The thing is nowadays everyone wants to take the monuments down, so we're just glad that they're down here doing this [ceremony]," Royal said. "It's to let people know that what our ancestors did was not in vain."