After spending over three years battling obstacles the U.S. Military Academy presented, the Class of 2021 cadets finally convened at Trophy Point to receive their class rings during the Ring Ceremony on Friday getting one step closer to the ranks of officership in the U.S. Army.
Since 1835, this customary tradition has highlighted the achievement of firsties being recognized for reaching their senior year at West Point. With the exception of the Classes of 1836 and 1869, every class has conducted this ceremony with the Class of 2021 now joining its Long Gray Line brethren.
The West Point crest, which is made of yellow gold and black onyx, is imbued in every ring on behalf of the black and yellow school colors. Traditionally, the ring is worn with the class crest toward the heart before graduation, and then switch to the academy crest toward the heart afterward. Class of 2021 Cadet Stephanie Dudgeon dreamed of wearing the class crest close to her heart ever since she was a child attending Ring Ceremony events.
“I grew up watching firsties get their ring, and it’s such an amazing honor to be in this position and being the firstie that gets the ring,” Dudgeon said. “I’m so excited that we’re close to graduation, and I get to wear the academy crest close to my heart.”
Class of 2021 Cadet Anthony Janeiro said this ceremony highlights his next step in reaching his goal of becoming an officer in the Army. At West Point, Janeiro formed close friendships and overcame many challenges that improved his character, and the ring represents his journey.
“It’s an awesome accomplishment — a great milestone, a great opportunity to celebrate with my colleagues,” Janeiro said. “I keep my family in my heart, and I’m excited for what the future brings.”
Due to the pandemic, Brig. Gen. Curtis Buzzard, Commandant of Cadets, said symbolically, friends and family stood behind the Class of 2021, providing love and support as they have for over three years.
“As I look upon the hillside behind the Class of 2021, I cannot help but notice that something is missing—an army of family, friends and loved ones who couldn’t be here in person this year but have joined us virtually,” Buzzard said. “Though not here physically, their love and support were essential to your development, motivating you to persevere.”
Capt. Johnathan Craig, tactical officer for Company A-2 at West Point, said he was thrilled to watch the cadets receive their rings. Having spent so much time with cadets as a primary leader developer, he felt like a grad himself. He added that events like the Ring Ceremony help cadets realize the impact of their accomplishments, and it also helps them stay on the path to success.
“The cadets need to keep the motivation up and stay ready,” Craig said. “They are in the home stretch now to graduation, and this is such a great event.”
As the event reached its conclusion, the Ring and Crest representatives got in position and held the jewelry trays filled with the class rings in front of the cadets. The jewelry boxes were distributed to each cadet, and as they eagerly awaited, the order was given to don the rings.
Buzzard explained the ring serves as a constant reminder of what a cadet represents that identifies he or she as a standard-bearer of the values: Duty, Honor and Country.
“In closing, congratulations to the Class of 2021 in receiving your rings and moving one step closer to graduation,” Buzzard said. “I also hope you recognize that you are receiving more than a ring. It is a symbol, it is a bond and it is a commitment. You will be held to a higher standard. May you never forget Duty, Honor, Country, and until the battle is won, Go Army beat everybody!”