Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Flag Discussion' started by armoryhistorian, Sep 8, 2009.
Is it proper to have an eagle atop a flagpole flying anything other than US flag?
I posted the original question because I checked the US Flag Code and was aghast to see this question was not addressed. Being former Army. I was also surprised to see that each armed service has their own policy on this. But some other sources suggest, and I agree, that because the US flag is a symbol, and that further the eagle atop a US flag is also a symbol, it's customary for the US Flag to be topped with an eagle, and lesser flags, such as state, organization, etc. have a ball or something else. Nonetheless, many thanks for clarification on the question.
Hello, Armory Historian !
Welcome to the USA-Flag-Site Forums !
As you are probably aware, one of the main purposes of the U.S. Flag Code (U.S. Code, Title 4 - The Flag) is to give "civilians" some "guidance" as to the proper procedures, usages, care, customs, guidelines, and protocols of dealing with the U.S. Flag. So it should be of no "big" surprise that the "Flag Code" deals more with the Flag than it does with the size & shape of the finial (ornament) on top of the flagpole from which the Flag is flying from.
It is worth noting that while the "Flag Code" is part of the "U.S. Code", it does not necessarily have the "force" of law and therefore is not enforceable. In other words, if you do something that is "non-compliant" with the "Flag Code", the "Patriot Police" or the "Flag Federales" are not going to swoop down on you and haul you off to the slammer!
The one-word opinion that I gave in my first response ("certainly") is just that: my opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. And I doubt that it would be, or should be the final word on the subject.
The shape of the finial on top of a flagpole may not seem to be all that "important" or "controvesial", but it can be. Most of the finials I've seen on outdoor flagpoles are in the shape of a "ball", while almost every "home Flag set" has an "eagle" at the top of the pole. There are other finial shapes of course, such as a "spear tip", an "acorn", or a "spade". Nothing very "controversial" there, right?
But what if the flagpole's finial was some other VERY recognizable symbol?
How many of us want to see an American Flag flying from a flagpole topped with the Communist "Hammer & Sickle"? How about a NAZI Swastika?
How upset would some people get if they noticed an American Flag flying from a flagpole that was topped with a Islamic "Star & Crescent", or a Jewish "Star Of David", or a Christian "Cross" ???
So, you see, while in most cases the shape of a flagpole's finial isn't really all that important, it can be.
But in the United States of America people are pretty much free to express their patriotism in whatever way, shape, or form that pleases them. And that includes the shape of their flagpoles' finials.
If we can recognize and "accept", or at least make allowances for, the symbols that other people use to "top" their flagpoles that fly the American Flag, then I guess we can all pretty much do the same for those flagpoles that are flying other flags as well.
Just my "Two Cents" of course !
Thank You for bringing your Flag-related question to our Forums !
Robin "I Prefer An Eagle Finial" Hickman
Because the US Flag Code doesn't address this, many other sources I've checked out actually recommend, for outdoor use, NOT using an eagle to top the pole, as the outspread wings can catch the flag and damage it, to the point where it can become unserviceable. It makes sense that a ball or some other topper is recommended. For indoor use, where the flag is stationary, many sources I've checked recommend the eagle. But you are indeed right about the Flag Code having no teeth. I can't tell you how dismayed I was as a soldier returning from Vietnam, seeing my countrymen burning our flag. As confusing as it was, I realized that the very flag I fought defending was the very same flag burning as an expression of freedom of speech, a right protected by our Constitution.
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