For the first time (that WPAOG is aware of) the 50-Year Affiliation Class has received a nod of appreciation in the cadets’ class crest.
Everything in a class crest is symbolic. The bald eagle continues to maintain its traditional representation of freedom, spirit, and the pursuit of excellence. “USMA” serves as not only a representation of our alma mater but also as a physical embodiment of the core values engrained in each cadet: Duty, Honor, Country.
This year, the stars and stripes on the American flag are also symbolic. There are six stars on the left and six stripes on the right to honor the Class of 1966, the 50-Year Affiliation Class.
“To think that these plebes, who haven’t been at West Point very long and who really do not yet understand the Long Gray Line, would even think to include a symbol of our class on their crest was unexpected and overpowering,” said Al Nason ’66, who attended the dinner with Cooper Wright ’66.
More about this year’s crest:
The soldier in the center of the crest represents each member of the Class of 2016. With the class motto “With Honor We Lead,” this soldier represents a warrior leading from the front as he or she rallies his or her soldiers and calls them forward. Placed between the cadet saber and officer saber, the soldier is leading the way from cadetship to officership, as all the members of the Class of 2016 must do for each other
The eagle’s wings are downward as if it is taking to flight. This motion represents the class’s drive to reach newer heights and achievements. His wings are wrapping around the soldier representing protection, and, above all, the class coming together and internalizing the ideals and values of West Point.
The oak leaves to the left of “USMA” represent the endurance and strength of the class. The olive leaves on the right symbolize the peace and victory for which the cadets strive. The oak leaves are positioned in a place of honor to represent that it is this class’s strength and endurance that will always see them through.
The class motto, “With Honor We Lead,” is placed at the bottom of the crest to represent that it is their foundation, their bedrock, their crux. When all else fails, they WILL lead with honor.
USMA is placed at the top of the crest as a representation that it is the institution overseeing their soldierization and development into leaders of character.
The United States flag is placed in the background to represent that it is our nation that has made them who they are today. It is their heritage and their reason for their call to serve. It is adorned with six stripes and six stars to forever connect the class with their 50-Year Affiliation Class of 1966. This serves as a reminder to not forget those who assisted them in getting where they are today and to remember where they have all come from.
The class year is placed separated, signifying that the class of 2016 is made up of what is contained within.
Finally, the compass refers to the direction a leader must provide for his or her soldiers; while, the Loral, with its 16 leaves, represents the Class of 2016 and the honor with which they have committed themselves to serve the sons and daughters of America’s Army.