Flags are an indelible part of our history. As Americans, it is a symbol of our collective will to live freely. When our flag was first flown, it was a declaration that we wanted our independence and were willing to put everything we had on the line to claim it. It stands for what we hold most dear and our pride as citizens of this great nation for which we stand.
When you go out to purchase your flag, you want to ensure that it flies high and free so that your voice can join that chorus announcing your beliefs to the rest of the world. In order to do that, you will need to make sure that your flag is properly equipped to handle whatever may come.
This article will touch on a few of these necessary accessories and how they can help your flag stay visible, flying high for years to come.
Why Flags Are Important?
Human history has seen flags flown for a variety of reasons, but they all have one thing in common. Universally, they are flown to convey a message.
During the Peloponnesian War, historians theorize that larger-scale naval maneuvers were almost certainly executed by using signal flags.
Despite the advancement of radio and modern technologies, the US Navy continues to use signal flags in order to communicate between ships.
These messages could convey a wide range of subjects. They could convey everything from a simple “Yes” or “No” response, all the way to “We have a fire on board and are transporting volatile cargo. Stay clear.”
Another great example is the infamous Jolly Roger flown by pirates throughout the West Indies. We all know the quintessential skull and crossbones and the infamous implications that sail with it. But there was actually a degree of nuance even to the flags of infamous buccaneers.
If a pirate flew a black flag, it usually meant that those who surrendered would be relieved of their cargo but otherwise left relatively unharmed. However, if the flag had red coloration on it, it was a message that struck fear in the hearts of the opposing captain and crew alike. Give no quarter. No lives spared.
All that to say, a flag is never just a flag. They carry emotions and statements that can strike fear or inspire awe. As Americans, our flag is meant to convey our country's core principles, as stated in our Declaration of Independence.
It is intended to show the world what we value most: these ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness on which our country was founded. It’s a message worth conveying, and one far too important to let it get tangled around flagpoles or damaged by high winds.
Keeping The Code
Did you know that the United States actually has a Flag Code? It’s likely that you have heard some mention of it before, either on the news or in the classroom. Technically first implemented in 1923, the “official” set of rules and procedures associated with the American flag did not become signed into law until 1942.
It has been altered and amended several times since then. It details in depth the proper procedures, treatment, and usage of the flag in both military and civilian settings. This code is not officially enforced by federal law, but individual states are allowed to pass rulings on and enforce the flag code at their own discretion.
Braving the Storm
Generally speaking, flags are displayed outdoors, either on a flagpole or a smaller porch-mounted pole. With nature comes the elements, and with the elements comes wear and tear.
Seeing as, according to the US Flag Code, flags should be neither worn nor torn, it stands to reason that measures should be taken to reduce exposure to any potentially damaging conditions.
Like any exterior feature, flags require maintenance and care. If you leave a car to sit in your yard for three years, eventually, nature will take a visible toll. Flags are no different in that respect.
Historically, flags were made from organic fibers, usually either cotton or wool. That meant that there was a very real chance that they could be damaged by exposure or harsh weather. For that reason, it was customary to lower the flag for any inclement weather. This practice continues today for all flags not considered “all-weather.”
With the invention of nylon in the late 1930s came a new wave of resilient material for both private and commercial use. Due to its synthetic nature, nylon was much more weather resistant than its organic predecessors. This made it far more suitable for extended outdoor use.
The U.S. Military soon picked up on this fact and began diverting any and all domestic nylon production toward the war effort. Interestingly enough, this is roughly the same time that the flag code was officially put into legislation.
In the years since, the vast majority of flags have been made using nylon, particularly the aforementioned all-weather flags. Their superior weather resistance makes them far more long-lived and resilient, and therefore require less direct care and attention.
Despite the fact that materials are hardier than ever, your flag should still be treated with care. You want to make sure that it is securely fastened and properly hung. This will mean different things depending on where and how your flag will be flown.
For example, if you intend to fix your flag to a boat or vehicle, it will require different equipment than just attaching a pole and bracket to your front porch.
For one thing, due to the high speeds that your flag will undergo when on a vehicle, you will need a pole that has some give to it. Rather than an aluminum or hardwood pole, you want a material that flexes.
Think of it as a fishing pole to some degree. You want something that isn’t just going to snap after repeating constant force is applied to it. In this case, of course, it’s wind rather than a fish, but the basic principle still applies.
Speaking of fishing poles, some flags, like Allegiance Flag Supply’s boat flag set, are tailored to fit into the fishing pole holders already on your boat. For these specialized flagpoles, we use a super-strong fiberglass material. This unique material will bend without breaking, no matter how fast you zip around over the wakes.
However, we would still advise removing your flag prior to any tropical storms or other severe weather conditions. A good rule of thumb is, if there’s a risk to your boat, it’s probably a risk to your flag too, and one is significantly easier to fix than the other.
The majority of flag owners tend to install them on either a free-standing pole or a porch-mounted one. Even though your flag won't be going with you on the highway or the high seas, you will still need to make sure that it is soundly secured with durable equipment.
A Solid Foundation
For those of you with porches, your best bet is to have a strong metal bracket to which you may affix your pole.
A treated Vermont White Ash flagpole is a great, sturdy option that will stay secure. It is better suited to resist dry rot and the elements than any plastic equivalent. Likewise, your mounting bracket should be made of a durable metal that won't bend or flex.
The American flag traditionally represents freedom and liberty, a sentiment that is ill conveyed when your flag is a tangled mess, twisted around its own pole. If you want to keep your flag free from furling (say that ten times fast), you will need a flag spinner.
While the name may invoke the image of a pinwheel, flag pole spinners are no fun and games. They are a very useful attachment to have around.
Spinners allow your flag to rotate around their pole as the wind changes direction. This rotation prevents the flag from wrapping around itself like it otherwise would if allowed to catch on the pole.
Keeping The Spirit Alive
Whether you are looking to re-outfit your old flag or install a newly purchased one, it’s important to properly understand the context and equipment involved in this centuries-old practice.
Though we have made advancements in materials and accessories over the last couple of centuries, the fact remains that the American flag is an important symbol that should be treated with care and respect. The best way to do that is by making sure you have the right tools for the job.
Wherever your journey may take you or your flag, we hope this article gives you what you need to keep your flag flying proudly for many years to come.