With emotional debates and decades of dialogue behind them, South Carolina officials removed the Confederate flag Friday morning from the statehouse grounds where it has flown for more than half a century. 

Thousands turned up for the ceremony and cheered when the rebel banner was removed. 

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a measure Thursday afternoon to remove the flag.

Following Friday’s ceremony, the flag will be placed in a special armored van and taken to the Confederate relic room, where it will live out its days in a multimillion-dollar shrine South Carolina lawmakers have promised to build as part of the Confederate flag compromise.

The extraordinary move comes less than a month after nine black members of Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were gunned down during Bible study by a white man who frequently posed with pictures of the Confederate flag behind him. The outrage over the murders sparked a national conversation over the symbolism and significance tied to the Confederate flag. It also led to a handful of other states, towns and businesses reexamining their policies on Confederate-era memorabilia.