Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sons of Confederate Veterans say they’re preserving history, not racism

On a warm day in August, a couple dozen people gathered for an afternoon picnic at Shawnee Mission Park.
Under the shade of a shelter surrounded by leafy green trees, two men cooked burgers and brats on a charcoal grill next to a row of tables topped with red plastic tablecloths and a summery spread of sliced watermelon, barbecue-flavored potato chips and sopapilla cheesecake. The weather would have been perfect if not for occasional gusts of wind that whipped through the grove and threatened to topple the three flags fixed to portable poles next to the dessert table: an American flag, a Kansas flag and a Confederate battle flag.
The picnic is an annual event for the Major Thomas J. Key Camp No. 1920, a local branch of theSons of Confederate Veterans. The nonprofit organization for male descendants of soldiers who fought for the South in the Civil War has 98,000 members worldwide, including 1,445 in Missouri and 480 in Kansas. And its ranks are growing.