By Chris Yow
TRUSSVILLE — The Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp 1435 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans have been based in Trussville since 2010, but the camp has been established for much longer.
Camp Commander Brent Goodwin has big plans for his group, but wants the public to understand the mission of the organization.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans began in the late 1800s after members of the United Confederate Veterans — made up of actual Confederate veterans from the Civil War — began to die. The organization has since become a preservation society of sorts, although the perception of the group has been unfavorable at times.
“We are a legitimately nationally recognized organization. We are trying to document and preserve the history of the Confederate soldier,” Goodwin said. “We’re not trying to resurrect the War Between the States, and we’re not trying to be racially charged.”
Goodwin said the Trussville camp has been active in cleaning up the local cemeteries and helping mark gravesites.
“Our history in Trussville is we have identified the cemeteries where soldiers are buried, we try to go out and clean the cemeteries, we try to recognize the graves. If they’re not marked, we mark them,” Goodwin said.
He added that at times Confederate soldier’s graves are not only poorly marked, but even vandalized at times. The problem is, Goodwin said, is that is illegal.
“Their graves are recognized nationally by Congress as graves of veterans. In Alabama, some people have come by and didn’t like our flags on the grave. If they go by and pick them up, it’s a Class A misdemeanor,” he said. “Cemeteries are protected by state law, and we have Federal law that protects the graves of veterans.”
Goodwin’s group has placed flags at the site of Confederate soldiers in Trussville and has even helped the upkeep at other monuments in town. The group even found a sign covered with brush on U.S. 31 that commemorated Nathan Bedford Forrest, and trimmed around the sign.
Goodwin said there are four main facts of the SCV he said the public should know:
- They are a historical organization recognized by Congress.
- The SCV is dedicated to preserving the history, valor and memory of the Confederate soldier and his ideals for which he fought and died.
- The SCV is dedicated to educating the general public to the true causes of the War Between the States.
- The SCV is involved with local and state politics only to the extent of issues that surround historic monuments, markers and buildings to ensure they are preserved and protected for future generations.
“My mission has been to educate the public on what the Sons of Confederate Veterans are,” Goodwin said. “If you’re from the South, if you go back three or four generations, you’re going to find a family member who fought with the Confederate States of America.”
The local camp in Trussville has 29 members according to Goodwin, and they meet the third Thursday each month at First Baptist Church Trussville beginning at 7 p.m. Anyone interested in joining or helping the camp is welcome to come to a meeting.