U.S. Military Academy Class Rings

U.S. Military Academy Class Rings

As far as records show, the U.S. Military Academy was the first school to use rings as a class symbol; the first class to receive rings was the Class of 1835.

Until 1869, ring designs were chosen informally, but that year an organized meeting was held for deciding on the class ring. Thus began the Ring and Crest Committee, the members of which are chosen by each class during Cadet Basic Training.

Since the Class of 1917, rings have borne a class crest on one side, representing friendships within the class, and the crest of the academy on the other, as a constant reminder of the ideals of West Point. Though the bands of the rings are uniform, the stones have always been chosen by the purchaser, and cadets usually choose a stone to personalize the ring. Legend has it that one cadet thought it appropriate to put a stone from the area in his ring, implying he spent many hours there walking off demerits.

Cadets have always purchased their own rings, but for many years funds in cadet’s accounts were earmarked for the expenditure of the class ring until the late 1990s. Today, it is the responsibility of each cadet to make appropriate arrangements for their ring purchase. Depending on the choice of stone and the purity of the gold, cadet rings can range greatly in price.

Every class since 1835 has chosen their own motto to be part of the class crest. “Danger Brings Forth Friendship” was the motto for the Class of 1835. Most of the mottos were in Latin; however, there was one in French and one in Scottish that read “Dinna Wait.”

With the exception of the Class of 1836, which chose not to have rings, and the Class of 1879, which chose cuff links instead of rings, each class has worn rings to symbolize their pride in West Point and in each other. To understand the meaning of the class ring among graduates, voices from the past speak eloquently about its significance:

The Pointer, 1939. “Throughout the service, thousands of officers are wearing rings of the U.S. Military Academy; the rings represent that apprenticeship common to us all. The mark of that mutual experience is the class ring with the academy crest on each, an expression of a binding link which adds real meaning to the phrase ‘fellow officers.’ Going even further than contemporary lives, the rings also connect us to past classes—the Long Gray Line.

The Pointer, 1939. “Your ring is a personal, concrete symbol of everything West Point stands for. Whether in uniform or not, every man who wears it looks down with a glow of pride from time to time and says to his inner self, ‘At least I’ve done something worthwhile in my life…’”