Family and friends watched with excitement as the triumphant Class of 2023 cadets marched steadily down to the amphitheater at Trophy Point to receive their class rings during the Ring Weekend ceremony Aug. 26 at the U.S. Military Academy.
Since 1835, firsties who reached their senior year have received recognition for this accomplishment through the ring ceremony.
Additionally, this milestone is an achievement that adds to the 187-year legacy of USMA graduates who contributed to the ceremonial rite of the “Long Gray Line.”
During last yearʼs Ring Melt event, 71 class rings spanning from the classes of 1909 to 2004 were donated to the Class of 2023, breaking the record for the number of rings donated. The 50-year affiliate class, Class of 1973, donated 11 of those rings.
With that, Brig. Gen. Mark Quander, the Commandant of the Corps of Cadets, said that the rings also serve as a reminder to the Class of 2023 that they have committed themselves to become leaders of character to the people of the Nation upon commissioning as second lieutenants.
“Today, the grip of 740 members of the Long Gray Line lives on in the rings of the Class of 2023,ˮ Quander added. “These rings you are about to receive have a deeper meaning than just being a ‘bold mold of rolled gold.’ Your rings represent the bond and legacy that every member of the Long Gray Line, past, present and future, who are committed to the values of Duty, Honor and Country, share.ˮ
Soon after, the crowd cheered with thunderous applause as the cadets donned their rings, cementing their legacy and commitment to continue on their path to commissioning into officership.
The ceremony filled Class of 2023 Cadet Nate Campbell with a sense of spiritual contentedness as he embraced his close friends and noted how “friendship is essential to the soul.ˮ
Despite his family being unable to witness the accomplishment in person, Campbell felt that his family was there in spirit, singing their praises on the significance of Campbellʼs achievement.
“Anything I accomplish, I accomplished with my family,” Campbell said. “This is an accomplishment on the road to finishing up at West Point and now I just got to focus up and make the ring worth something.”
Class of 2023 Cadet Aunikah King said she couldnʼt help but smile as she stood in formation, ready to receive her ring.
“I just didn’t know that I would ever make it this far,ˮ King said as her family cheered her on. “I’m so grateful and this moment is so surreal right now. It’s surreal because I know my next journey will involve leading America’s sons and daughters. I just need to make sure I’m preparing the right way while I’m here — using the resources here to become the best leader that I can be so that when I commission, I’m prepared to do the best job possible.ˮ
As the event culminated, first-year cadets, sophomores and juniors praised the Class of 2023 cadets and regarded their rings with respect and acclaim, while King offered words of wisdom.
“For the future cadets who aspire to be here, I just encourage them to keep going and never give up,ˮ King concluded. “Lean on your brothers and sister to your left and right to help you throughout your journey because you cannot succeed at West Point alone.ˮ