Confederate flag debate in northern Virginia

The Confederate Memorial in Alexandria stands with its back to the nation's capital. But civil rights activists here in northern Virginia said the Confederate battle flag is in retreat.

"We're a new dominion now and not old dominion," said Emmitt Carlton, former president of the Alexandria NAACP.

He said the battle flag has mostly disappeared in northern Virginia.

But just 45 minutes south in Fredericksburg, the flag is in full view after a group, the Virginia Flaggers, raised a large battle flag along Interstate 95 last year.

"It is related to slavery and oppression and all sorts of things that aren't pro-American," said Carlton. "If we're going to be one union, which was what the Civil War was about, then you have one flag and one country."

But surprisingly, you can also find the Confederate flag at George Washington's home in Mount Vernon.

We found that Mount Vernon's gift shop sells several items bearing the flag, including a rebel soldier's hat, Confederate money reproductions as well as a Confederate soldier's belt.

Joe Whitney is a Confederate Civil War reenactor in Fairfax County.

"There are a lot of people who are descended from Confederate soldiers," he said.

He called racists crazy people who have have hijacked the Confederate flag's true meaning, which he said to many southerners is an important symbol of their ancestor's military service in the Civil War.

"They want it taken down because it offends them," said Whitney. "But when you start taking things down because it offends people, you can end up taking down a lot of things."

Virginia Flaggers declined to be interviewed about their large Fredericksburg flag, but they put out a statement saying they are joining in the grieving for the nine people killed in South Carolina. But they would not comment on the current battle over the Confederate flag.

A spokesperson for the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, which runs both the mansion and the gift shop, told FOX 5 the items we asked about are on sale because Mount Vernon is part of the official Civil War Heritage Trail.

They said they periodically review the merchandise they sell and their retail officials are open to public input about what is made available for purchase.

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