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April 1st, 2015

What Is in the Top of a Flagpole? The Gold Flagpole Topper.

There are many myths or urban legends surrounding the contents of the gold flagpole ball on top of the flagpole that are installed at military bases. The myth surrounds these items:

  • Razor blade
  • Pistol
  • Ammunition
  • Matches
  • Penny

Pistol, Ammunition & Matches: These items were said to be kept at the top of the flagpole, so that the commander instead of surrendering his post to the enemy can instead take down the flag, burn it to prevent desecration, and commit suicide rather than be taken alive.

Razor blade, match, and pistol with one round: If the post is overrun a soldier is supposed to lower the flag, and remove the items form the flagpole ball. They would use the razor to slice off the stripes, use the match to burn the flag, then commit suicide with the pistol.

Pistol, bullet and penny: The pistol was said to be kept in the flagpole topper, so America will never be without arms; the bullet so that that the pistol will never be out of ammo and the penny is so America will never be broke.

We install many flagpoles and flagpole ball toppers, many at military bases. We have not run across any items inside of the top of the flagpole, except the bolt that attaches the ball to the rest of the pole…

What other urban legends have you heard surrounding the flagpole topper?

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15 Comments

  • Avatar
    Norm Glitz

    November 28, 2016 at 2:05 am

    "Etc" not "ect. Short for the Latin words Et cetera.

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    wilfredo leon

    December 2, 2016 at 5:50 am

    inside the truck of our US flagpole . silver bullet represents ww1 , gold bullet represents ww2 , sissor to shred flag in case it falls , and maches to burn it

  • Avatar
    M Halpin

    January 4, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    The Vallejo Yacht Club in Vallejo, CA sits across from the former Mare Island Navy base. The club has a flagpole identical to a military one still located on Mare Island (the club has been around since about 1900). Recently, they took the flagpole down to repaint it. Upon a mishap while putting it back up, the flagpole’s ball came crashing down and broke into three solid pieces. In one piece there was a .22 caliber bullet and evidence of something they couldn’t identify. They had the pieces X-Rayed and found that the ball contained six bullets!

  • Avatar
    M Halpin

    January 4, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    The Vallejo Yacht Club in Vallejo, CA sits across from the former Mare Island Navy base. The club has a flagpole identical to a military one still located on Mare Island (the club has been around since about 1900). Recently, they took the flagpole down to repaint it. Upon a mishap while putting it back up, the flagpole’s ball came crashing down and broke into three solid pieces. In one piece there was a .22 caliber bullet and evidence of something they couldn’t identify. They had the pieces X-Rayed and found that the ball contained six bullets!

  • Avatar
    Stoneystone Grant

    January 19, 2017 at 1:16 am

    The Ball is called Truck inside is a Military Duce and A Quarter Truck 2 1/2 ton Truck. VN Vet

  • Avatar
    Todd Bonn

    March 22, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    There is nothing inside the "truck" or finial. The only purpose that it serves is to keep the flag from becoming entangled in it. Gold eagles were used before the gold ball and flags would become entangled in the eagles so gold balls were used instead.

  • Avatar
    L.K. Smith

    April 5, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    Pistol,Ammunition and Matches is the most reasonable myth and stands to be the one myth with the most sense, one way to find out look and see

  • Avatar
    Samantha Packard

    June 14, 2017 at 11:14 am

    I was told by a history teacher. There’s a bullet,needle,and theard,thimble and a match.the needle and theard and thimble are to fix the flag if ever torn. The match to burn it if ever it touches the ground. And the bullet for defending the USA

  • Avatar
    Jeremy

    September 12, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    I had that posed as a question at a promotion board in the Army

  • Avatar
    Johnson

    September 28, 2017 at 1:12 am

    I have heard were with the match there is a metal can with gasoline to make sure the flag burns all the way, and including the pistol and bullet for suicide.

  • Avatar
    Jesse

    October 19, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    A flag touching the ground doesn’t require destruction solely for that. It has to be unserviceable.

    In the early 1980s USAF at Ellsworth AFB, SD, we airmen were told that the truck contained a bullet, a match, and a grain of wheat. Defense, warmth, and food.

  • Avatar
    Kathilynn

    March 30, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    One bullet to defend the country.
    One penny so we never go broke.
    One match to light our way.

  • Avatar
    shane redden

    June 5, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    I don’t know about Urban Legend however those were questions during my Promotions testing from E-4 to E-5 which is called going before the Board. 100% disabled Desert Storm Veteran…

  • Avatar
    Tammy Brown

    October 28, 2019 at 1:50 am

    A needle and thread to mend the flag, a grain of wheat so there will always be something to eat and a match to burn it if it ever touches the ground. At least that’s what my daughter learned from a local VFW post in the 4th grade. She is now a 10th grader and noticed our school flagpole didn’t have anything on top. She approached that same group this year to ask for help getting a ball to put the aforementioned items in. They went further and have funded the purchase of a new flagpole with ball and it will be dedicated on Veterans Day. So proud of her and her Army Veteran dad.

    • Avatar
      Kim Griebling

      October 28, 2019 at 4:30 pm

      That is so cool of the VFW to help with a new flagpole. Your daughter sounds like a go-getter! You should be proud!

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