Hanging from the poop deck in the mess hall, the U.S. Military Academy Class of 2023’s crest was covered by a black shroud.
The class’ motto “Freedom is not free” was revealed at the end of Cadet Basic Training in August and now it was time to unveil the crest. The image will be something the members of the class carry with them for the rest of their lives and it will one day be engraved on one side of the ring the cadets receive on Ring Weekend to start their firstie year. For many of them, this moment at the Plebe-Parent Weekend banquet March 7 was the first time they saw it.
Members of the class started working on the crests’ design in October with representatives from each company coming together to pitch ideas. Three companies were then chosen to create mock-ups before one was placed in charge of designing the crest.
The design of the crest with the bald eagle at the top holding the class motto, oak and olive leaves, and both a cadet and officer saber honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the nation as well as the commitment the Class of 2023 has made, according to Class of 2023 Ring and Crest Chair Cadet Jordyn Kenkel.
The crest pays tribute to the Class of 1973, this class’ 50-year affiliate class, by using similar fonts to the ‘73 crest. The eagle also has three talons on each claw and is holding a broken chain with seven links on each side to represent ‘73. The chain represents the link between the members of the Class of 2023 as well as the class’ link to the ’73 class. The chain is broken to represent the future officer’s fight against tyranny, according to Kenkel.
The unveiling of the crest took place during the annual banquet at the conclusion of Plebe-Parent Weekend. The event also included a speech by retired Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III, Class of 1980, the former commander of United States Special Operations Command.
He spoke to the cadets and their families about his career in the Army and offered advice as they prepare to begin their own.
“When you show up to your first unit and meet your first senior noncommissioned officer, platoon sergeant, section sergeant, whatever their job might be; I’d offer that you should show them your human side,” Thomas said. “Tell them a little bit about yourself. Tell them where you come from so that they know you as a person. And then, ask them a simple question: what do you expect of me?”
Plebe-Parent Weekend is held annually the weekend spring break begins at West Point and gives the members of the plebe class a chance to show their families around the academy. Plebes then assumed cadet leadership positions for the remainder of the weekend.
“It’s great to see where he lives, his everyday interactions and meet some of the cadets that he’s become friends with. It’s an amazing place and certainly a lot different than Orlando,” said Sid Cash, whose son Gaines is a plebe. “We didn’t know what we were getting into up here. This is our first child in the military and to have an experience like West Point is just an amazing opportunity.”