Project Flagpole

(a little project for this Spring)

I love seeing the flag of the United States flown prominently in front of businesses and homes. I believe the American Legion can provide you with the rules for proper flag display but they are fairly simple; just treat the flag like you would any symbol for the greatest country in the world and the shining beacon of democracy and you should be okay. I want to focus on lighting the flag as I see a lot of United States flags that are flown overnight without being lit. I think most do-it-yourself folks can erect a pole to hold the flag without my instruction however here is one rule to remember; for every three feet of pole height you should have one foot firmly driven into the ground.

Let’s light the flag; it’s pretty easy and not that expensive. I believe 150 watt halogen lights, ran 24/7 are probably overkill and that a low voltage system with a 50 watt flood light should light the flag properly. Some folks will probably just push a solar-powered light into the ground and call it good, which is fine; just remember that the light needs to shine the whole night and few solar lights, even when exposed to full sun during the day, can handle this task.

Our flag is lit by a low-voltage controller that is wired underground to the spot light. The controller was about thirty five dollars and the wire is cheap and easy to install; I usually just slice the sod with a shovel, pull on the grass to open the cut then slide the wire under the top layer. A light that simply sits on the ground, in front of the flagpole, will be subject to lawnmower abuse and it will be hard to trim the grass around it to the point the grass may block the light. I placed our light on top of a concrete column about three feet above the ground. I used a cardboard forming tube, placed one foot into the ground for stability, then ran the wire through before I filled it with concrete. I did us a favor but removing the sod around the tube and filling the empty space with concrete set to ground level which prevents grass re-growth. I hate trimming and if you use this little trick you can trim with your rider or push mower. The use of string trimmers is punishment for certain crimes in some countries and I usually lose my will to trim by the time I get that little two cycle engine running. After the concrete set for about 4 hours, I removed the top 6 inches of the cardboard tube then shaped the concrete with my gloved hands. I then wired the low-voltage spotlight and used it’s mounting spike to attach it to the soft concrete.

There are several symbols which have represented our country including the Statue of Liberty which was originally called “Liberty Lighting the World.” When you light the flag of the United States, you return the favor to the symbol which inspired this statue and the idea of our country. It’s an important act and a great summer project for those who need to make a little concrete, do a little digging, and try some basic wiring to make a summer holiday week-end complete.


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