By Mike Strasser, U.S. Military Academy Public AffairsAugust 29, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Aug. 29, 2012) -- The tradition of wearing a class ring originated at the U.S. Military Academy in 1835 and continued Aug. 24, at Trophy Point with the Class of 2013.
The ceremony, which was attended by hundreds of family members, friends, graduates and guests, is symbolic of the hard work and dedication cadets have invested over the past three years, said Class of 2013 Cadet Stephanie Wangeman, the Class Ring and Crest chairperson.
"Fellow members of the Class of 2013, June 2009 marked the beginning of our journey together here at West Point," Wangeman said. "During the last three years we have created great memories together. Our ring is a bright symbol that connects us to those who formed the Long Gray Line before us and those who will follow in the ranks behind us. Let us lead the Corps with strength, integrity and dignity."
This was also the 12th West Point class to participate in the Ring Memorial program, which combines the gold from previous graduates' rings into the crucible each year to create the current class rings. This year, 12 donors attended the Ring Melt with the cadet ring and crest committee to witness the melting of 42 rings, bringing the total to 258.
"Nothing more clearly links the Class of 2013 with the Long Gray Line than to be wearing the gold from rings of graduates who have sacrificed so much for their country and for this institution," said Commandant of the Corps of Cadets Brig. Gen. Theodore Martin. "Cadets, now it's your turn."
Included in this year's program were the rings of three general officers and two from the Class of 1963, the Class of 2013's 50-year affiliation class. Ten of this year's donors attended the Class Ring Ceremony.
"The hopes, dreams and accomplishments that your rings represented are now permanently tied to our hopes, dreams and potential, and we thank you for this generous gift," Wangeman said at the ceremony.
Class of 2013 Cadet William Webb is a third generation West Pointer who now wears a class ring which contains gold from four graduates of his grandfather's Class of 1947.
"I am humbled and honored to wear a ring that was forged with other distinguished graduates' rings, especially those who were classmates with my grandfather," Webb said. "It strengthens the bond that the Class of 2013 has with our predecessors and motivates us to make them proud, knowing that we will enter combat with the same gold that our alumni once carried to the Spanish American War, Battle of the Bulge, Korea and elsewhere."
Webb said the ring represents a commitment to serve as a member of the Long Gray Line, like his brother, father and grandfather have before him.
Class of 2013 Cadet Joseph Valenzuela said the ceremony was special to him, and was happy to have his parents in attendance. His father, Col. Lorenzo Valenzuela, an Systems Engineering assistant professor, is a member of the 30-year affiliation class.
"You can see that my ring is very similar to his, so that means a lot to me," the firstie said.
The class has other significant milestones ahead--the next being Branch Night and then Post Night--two events which essentially tells them where and how they will initially serve as second lieutenants.
"Today is a pretty big event for all of us, but obviously the most important event here is graduating and becoming a commissioned officer," Valenzuela said. "I think the Ring Ceremony is important because it solidifies us with the Long Gray Line."