BRANTLEY, Ala. (AP) — As cities across the country are tearing down and relocating Confederate monuments, a county in southern Alabama on Sunday unveiled a new one.
Several hundred people attended a dedication ceremony for the “Unknown Alabama Confederate Soldiers” at Confederate Veterans Memorial Park in Crenshaw County, Alabama, 55 miles (88 kilometers) south of Montgomery.
The memorial park’s owner and developer, David Coggins, said the groups in attendance weren’t white nationalists or racists, but were acknowledging their heritage and honoring Confederate soldiers everywhere.
“It’s important that we remember our heritage and it’s very important we remember our history, for those people that forget their heritage … are doomed to repeat it again,” he said.
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The monument was surrounded by a black metal fence and flanked by two other monuments. As a red cloth was pulled to reveal it, five cannons were fired.
Confederate flags were flown throughout the park and several attendants were dressed in Confederate garb.
The Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans attended the ceremony, along with re-enactors dressed in period clothing.
Coggins said the ceremony was not planned in response to recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month, when white nationalists who objected to the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee clashed with counter protesters. A woman was killed and several others injured when a car plowed into the counter-protesters. Two state troopers also died when their helicopter crashed.
The Alabama ceremony was scheduled months ago and the monument was ordered last year, Coggins told The Associated Press.
Debbie Weir, a retired attendee, said the monument stands for everything her ancestors endured, adding that she enjoyed people from different states coming together “to prove that we are one nation.”
“It’s always a good day when Confederates come together,” Weir said.