Virginia Flaggers take to streets of Lexington for Lee-Jackson Day

LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - The Virginia Flaggers are back in Lexington to mark Lee-Jackson Day. The future of the state holiday has come into question, after Governor Northam backed a bill to repeal it.

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Lee-Jackson Day has been celebrated in Virginia since the late 1800s. In recent years, more hometowns across Virginia are choosing not to celebrate it. In Lexington, that's not the case, and the issue still has many divided.

"Well, because Jackson is right behind me, Lee is down at the Lee Chapel," Barry Isenhour, a Virginia Flagger, said.

Confederate generals Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson are both buried in Lexington. Their stories are what bring the Virginia Flaggers back to Lexington every year. Friday morning, they marked the holiday at the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery.

"It's our veterans. These men gave their lives for their families in the state of Virginia. Most of us have confederate blood, some may, some may not, I have confederate blood, so again it's honoring our veterans, honoring our families," Isenhour said.

The group lined the streets downtown to fly Confederate flags, where they aren't normally displayed anymore. In 2016, Lexington City Council decided to forbid any flag besides the US and Virginia flags to fly on light posts around town.

"There are some folks that do see a Confederate Flag as a hate image, and I think out of concern for that, the city looked to eliminate that symbol," Mayor of Lexington, Frank Friedman, said.

Mayor Friedman says the day comes with controversy for several reasons.

"People that do see the Confederate Flag as a hate symbol, and others see it as an image of our history and not wanting to erase that part of our history," he said.

The Virginia Flaggers and the Sons' of Confederate Veterans plan to hold a Lee-Jackson Parade Saturday.

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