The flags of the Confederacy that flew high over Fort Sumter, the site where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, have been taken down from the historic site.

The decision to remove the flags came from a directive by National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis in Washington, D.C. which reads: "Confederate flags shall not be flown in units of the National Park system and related sites with the exception of specific circumstances where the flags provide historic context. ... All superintendents and program managers should evaluate how Confederate flags are used ... and remove the flags where appropriate." "Shall not be flown" is the only text that appears in bold in the letter.

The site of the Civil War's first battle is clearly a "historic" one, but according to a Fort Sumter spokesperson, it doesn't qualify as a place where "flags provide historical context," local WMBF News reported.

After the initial order from Washington to remove the flags was handed down, NPS Director Jarvis provided "further guidance" the next day that put the onus for the decision on regional directors. Fort Sumter's Superintendent Timothy Stone did not reverse Jarvis' decision and the flags remain down.

"The Confederate flag has a place in national parks when it provides historic context — signifying troop movements and locations, during living history programs and reenactments, or as a part of memorials and historic landscapes," Kathy Kupper, a spokesperson for the National Park Service, told the Washington Examiner.

The fort spokespeople are concerned they cannot provide "historical context" to those who do not attend the museum, like visitors on the beach or boaters passing by — although, unmentioned, is that these confused boaters and beachgoers would have to be in view of the mammoth edifice of the 19th century fort.

There is no historian on site to consult on the "historic context" so frequently mentioned by the park service. Spokesperson Bill Martin confirmed to the Washington Examiner that Fort Sumter's only historian retired approximately six months ago, and the position remains unfilled due to staffing shortages within the Park Service.

Like most park service employees, the men making these decisions do not have history degrees. Fort Sumter's superintendent has a background in forest management, with a bachelor's of science in forest resources, according to his biography on the National Park Service web site. The originator of this ruling, NPS Director Jarvis, has a degree in biology.

The Confederate flag that people display and that flies outside the South Carolina State House is actually the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. That is the flag that Dylann Storm Roof, the mass shooter, frequently posed with.

However, that flag was not flying outside Fort Sumter — instead the fort flew the far less frequently seen historic national flags of the Confederacy. The flags, along with the South Carolina Palmetto State flag, were added in commemoration of the centennial of the Civil War.

Local resident Eddie Watts said he believes the flag should be allowed to fly at the fort because it "was such a big part of this place," he told WMBF. After all, General P.G.T. Beauregard's Confederate forces fired the first shots of the Civil War on April 12, 1861, firing on Union forces inside the Charleston harbor fort. The Union forces surrendered 34 hours later, and the fort remained in Confederate hands until it was evacuated ahead of Sherman's march in February 1865.

Director Jarvis' initial letter to the parks couched his directive by opening with "the tragic events in Charleston, South Carolina" that have "raised issues" over the display of the flags.

However, Fort Sumter is not aware of any local complaints about the use of the flags at the historic site, or any local activist activity on the issue, spokesman Bill Martin told the Washington Examiner.

"The flag is so many things to so many people," said Neal Blount from North Charleston to WMBF News. "... [W]hen you start taking everything down that offends everybody ... then you're going to be taking the American flag down next."

NPS Director Jarvis has also asked concessionaires to stop selling the flags and to remove the flags from all national park stores. That includes the flag as a stand alone item, as a sticker, a pin, on clothes, or on any item it can be detached from. Books and DVDs where it is depicted in "historical context" will still be available for purchase.

U.S. retailers, like Walmart, Apple, Sears, Ebay, and Amazon, have announced that they will also no longer sell Confederate flag related merchandise, including educational items like Civil War board games.

The National Park Service signaled that the flags may not be permanently banned from flying, although they could provide no time frame for a reevaluation of the policy.

"After an appropriate time has passed, out of respect for those who lost their lives, park managers anticipate starting a dialog with employees, stakeholders, community leaders and visitors to develop a revised interpretive policy for the historical interpretation of Fort Sumter's flags," Kathy Kupper, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service, wrote in a statement to the Washington Examiner. She did not mention historians.

"The National Park Service seeks to tell the complete story of America," Jarvis wrote in his directive. The only problem is, it tells a "historical context" story sans historians.