The Final Defense of the American Flag

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When I was a cadet at New Mexico Military Institute, one of the inspection questions we were required to answer was:

What is in the truck (or ball) at the top of the flag pole?

First, the truck is the flat piece at the top of a flagpole (outside) or a flagstaff (used for color guards). This has to do with the flagpole. The required answer goes something like this:

  1. A single-shot handgun or single round for a handgun or rifle
  2. A match or lighter
  3. A razor blade, pair of scissors, or knife

You then had to describe how to use those three items:

When your unit is being overrun by the enemy, you use the razor to cut the union from the stripes, you use the match to burn the flag, and you use the bullet to defend the flag or commit suicide.

A flagpole truck

Allow me to put this into perspective. This whole idea is not real, it is pure legend. It’s a bit fun for cadets, but there are many holes in this story.

  • First, if these items were actually placed inside the truck or ball when the flagpole was first erected, how are time and weather not going to render these items unusable?
  • Second, if all of these items are in the truck, how on earth are you supposed to get up the pole? Especially if your enemy is overrunning your position.
  • Third, the truck is just a cap for the pole, it cannot hold anything. The ball is more or less sealed.
  • Lastly, cutting the flag is inappropriate unless it is huge (garrison flag) and you must cut it before burning it for safety. We do not cut the American flag before properly retiring (burning) it.
    • We can shred flags made of any kind of plastic to prevent toxins entering the air.

There is not such thing as the Final Defense of the American Flag other than bringing the flag down and evacuating the area.

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