COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Confederate flag that has flown on the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse for more than 50 years has come down.

An honor guard from the South Carolina Highway Patrol took down the flag in a ceremony today. A special van used to transport historical artifacts is taking it to the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, about a mile away, where it eventually will be housed in a shrine to be built.

The leader of the South Carolina chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans says he is attending the ceremony because he honors the memories of his seven ancestors who fought for the South in the Civil War. Leland Summers says his organization wasn't asked to participate in the Statehouse ceremony, unlike in 2000 when the flag was moved from the Capitol dome to a monument in front of the building. He says that at some point today, he will pause, reflect on his Southern relatives and pray for the future of the country.

Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill Thursday calling for the flag's removal from the Statehouse grounds.

Opposition to the Confederate Flag gained momentum after the killings of nine people, including a state senator, at a historic black church in Charleston.