High up on a flag pole is a decorative topper, called a finial. Legends abound about finials being used to store emergency supplies for use in the event of invasion by a foreign power. The truth, however, is much more mundane.
Urban legends claim the ball atop flag poles contains such things as razors, lighters and flares to destroy the flag and thus prevent foreign invaders from desecrating a national symbol. Another claim is that it contains a knife, a pistol and a single bullet as emergency armaments against invaders.
There actually isn’t anything inside a finial. Because the finial serves as decoration rather than as a secret container, they are solid all the way through.
The ball-shaped finial is often erroneously called the "truck." The truck is actually the mechanism that connects the finial to the pole.
While many finials are ball shaped, they may take many forms. Flag poles at government buildings in the United States are just as often topped with a metallic bald eagle.
Why a Ball?
A ball is often used on outdoor flag poles because the round shape prevents tangling with the flag or halyard in high winds.
- USA flag image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com