The South Carolina Confederate Flag was removed on Friday in a solemn morning ceremony after Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill for its permanent removal. The rebel flag flew for 54 years at the State Capitol.
Honor guards from South Carolina Highway Patrol pursued the Confederate memorial and as the lever was turned, lowering the flag, the crowd broke into applause and some began chanting “U.S.A!”
President Barack Obama tweeted, “South Carolina taking down the Confederate Flag—a signal of good will and healing, and meaningful step towards a better future.”
The Confederate Flag has been controversial after the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church massacre in Charleston, prompting Haley to call on for its removal from the capitol grounds and sparking debates across the country on how much of the Confederate emblems shall continue to be on display.
Before the ceremony began, some white men who were on the front line of the crowd started waving Confederate Flag. But more flags of the United States were swayed by whites and blacks.
An old black man, Cleo Bethune, went sentimental as he watched the guards remove the Confederate Flag.
“I feel very emotional. Everyone who embraces it should enjoy this moment and move on. Just move on,” Bethune was quoted by Washington Post.
Removal of South Carolina’s Confederate Flag did not come easy as lawmakers debated for more than 12 hours, proposing 68 amendments. But more lawmakers were determined for its removal and cast their votes, 36-3.
“We heard about the true honor of heritage and tradition. We heard about the true pain that many have felt. And we took the time to understand it. I saw passions get high. I saw passions get low,” Gov. Haley said earlier before signing the bill.
“But I saw commitment never ending. And so what we saw was another action. And that action is that the Confederate flag is coming off the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse,” the governor continued.