What Is in the Ball Atop a U.S. Flag Pole?
29 SEP 2017
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.
1 Urban Legends
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.
3 Mistaken Identity
The ball-shaped finial is often erroneously called the "truck." The truck is actually the mechanism that connects the finial to the pole.
4 Finial Variations
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.
5 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.