The West Point Band engaged the crowd with festive music as family, friends and guests applauded the triumphant Class of 2022 cadets as they steadily marched down to the amphitheater at Trophy Point to receive their class rings during the Ring Weekend ceremony on Friday at the U.S. Military Academy.
“The hopes, dreams and accomplishments that these rings represented are now permanently tied to our hopes, dreams and potential and we thank you for your generous gift. To the (USMA) Class of 1972, thank you for your guidance and mentorship throughout our time at West Point,” Class of 2022 Cadet Claire Jones said. “This ceremony is a symbol of the hard work, commitment and dedication the Class of 2022 has put into the past three years at West Point. For the next 267 days, our class crest will face our hearts. When we graduate, we turn our rings, so the West Point’s crest faces our hearts.”
Precedingly, Ron Turner, USMA Class of 1958 and one of the special guests at the ceremony, developed the idea of incorporating the gold of alumni rings into the current class’ rings. In November 2000, the Herff Jones Company melted the gold of 31 rings cementing Turner’s idea and creating the Class Ring Memorial Program, Cathy Kilner, the director of the West Point Associate of Graduates, said.
The price range this year, for the rings, went from a high of $7,636.85 down to a low of $698.13. The average cost of this year’s rings was $1,917. However, by comparison, the average cost of the rings purchased by the Class of 1972 was $130, Brig. Gen. Mark Quander, the Commandant of the Corps of Cadets, said.
Additionally, for 186 years since 1835, West Point has recognized firsties, through the ring ceremony, for reaching their senior year. This milestone in a cadet’s tenure signifies the prodigious commitment to join the Long Gray Line on graduation day.
During the ceremony, Quander praised the cadets for their achievement and underscored the importance of defending the nation and living up to the highest American values by highlighting recent tragic events over the last week in Afghanistan in which 13 service members were killed in the line of duty during an attack at the airport in Kabul.
“As we celebrate this milestone for our firsties (seniors) this afternoon, we also remember the sacrifice of those service members who gave their last full measure of devotion and service to this great nation. They truly represent the best of us,” Quander said. “To the firsties: as you prepare and lead America’s sons and daughters around the globe, remember that the true strength of our nation is our grit, our resiliency, our resolve and our values. And when our nation and those values are threatened, there are those, like you and those you will soon lead, who will step forward and stand in the gap to serve, protect and defend the United States of America and the American people.”
Quander added each ring represents the cadet’s commitment to their class motto: “For Many, Stand the Few.” Inscribed on one side of the Class of 2022 rings is their class crest. A symbol of the moral, mental and physical strength necessary to be a leader of character. On the other side of the ring is the academy crest, which serves as a constant reminder of what cadets represent as they work toward commissioning. It also serves as a reminder of a cadet’s past, present and future, both here at the academy, their commitment to the Army, and to whatever endeavor, he or she may choose outside of the Army.
With that, cadets were given the order by Quander to don their rings. The crowd cheered as the cadets donned the rings and cemented their legacy and commitment to continue their ongoing journey at West Point to commission into officership.
“I know that this senior year is going to be tough, but with this ring on my finger, I feel like I can do anything,” Class of 2022 Cadet Jade Estell said. “I’m ready! I’m motivated to finish my firstie year, I’m motivated to graduate and this ring signifies my commitment to become an officer in the Army and lead Soldiers.”
Class of 2022 Cadet Jonathan Topping said this moment represents the Class of 2022 cadets’ enduring dedication to be successful and live up to their class motto and the rings represent their fervor to one day lead the nation.
“It’s incredible and it’s very surreal. You see it happen to every class that comes before you and then it feels a little bit like “imposter syndrome” during your first academic year and even though you’ve been accepted to the Corps, you still feel illegitimate. This moment solidifies everything for me,” Topping said. “I’m getting closer to graduation. I’m looking to have a great firstie year and I can’t wait to commission.”
As the ring ceremony culminated, family and friends embraced the Class of 2022. Afterward, the Class of 2022 made their way down to USMA’s central area where cadet freshmen, juniors and sophomores congratulated their colleagues and marveled at their rings.