David Beasley could blame the Confederate battle flag for costing him a potentially lengthy political future.

Now that it's been removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds, the former Republican governor says the unity that has grown from the flag debate was worth the wait — and personal sacrifice.

Beasley infuriated fellow Republicans in 1996 when he proposed moving the flag from its perch atop the Statehouse dome. Lawmakers rejected the plan, and voters bounced him from office in 1998.

In 2004, as he vied for a U.S. Senate seat, flag supporters hounded Beasley, accusing him of being disloyal for wanting the flag off the dome.

This week, as he saw the flag leave the Statehouse entirely, Beasley says he's glad he's seen hearts changed on the issues behind the flag.