It is an age-old question…what is inside a flagpole ball? The correct answer is NOTHING. The main purpose of a flagpole ball is for decoration. A flagpole ball is constructed of two curved pieces of aluminum welded together and placed on a ½” threaded rod to be inserted into the flagpole truck. The ball has been commonly referred to as a truck but the correct terminology would be finial. The truck is the housing for the pulley system. Attaching the ball to the truck also prevents water from going into hollow flagpoles, as most trucks come standard with threaded holes to accommodate the ball.
Urban legends suggest that there are symbolic items placed in the ball to ensure that invading enemies would not capture our nations flag. The items themselves vary, as do the stories.
The most popular items claimed to be stored in the ball are a razor blade, a match, and a bullet. In this scenario when the military unit as been decimated, the last soldier would take down the flag, cut it into strips with the razor, burn the strips and used the bullet to commit suicide so that his secrets cannot be captured. In most cases the gun belonging to the bullet is buried at the base of the flagpole.
There are of course variations on this simple story. One popular variation is that the razor is used to cut the flag away from the halyard and not used on the flag itself. Another variation is that the bullet is used to defend the flag instead of using it to commit suicide.
In some cases additional items are hidden with the original items. Depending on the version, the extra item can be a grain of rice or a grain of wheat. The rice is used as fuel for the soldier to defend the flag and the wheat is to be used to rebuild food supplies should the soldier prove victorious in defense of the flag. Another additional item said to be inside in the case of victory would be a needle and thread to repair the flag if it has taken damage.
There has also been mention of a pencil in order to write down events for historical documentation. A penny is often rumored to assure that the United State will never be broke. Most legends pertain directly to the military so the average person need not be concerned with installing the appropriate items. In conclusion there are many different scenarios to be considered.