The West Point Association of Graduates’ Class Ring Memorial Program, more commonly known as “the Ring Melt,” was held in Crest Hall on Friday, January 21, 2022. 71 West Point rings, with the oldest being from the Class of 1909 and the newest being from the Class of 2004, were placed in a stone crucible so that they could be melted down to form a gold ingot bar. The bar was then handed over to a representative of the Herff Jones Ring Company so that the gold it contains can be mixed with new gold to form the class rings for the Class of 2023.
In the 22-year history of the Ring Melt, beginning with the Bicentennial Class of 2002, 740 West Point class rings have been part of the program. After each melt, a small amount of gold, called the “Legacy Gold” has been preserved so that it can be added to the subsequent year’s Ring Melt. Thus, the Class of 2023 will be receiving class rings in August that contain gold from all the donated rings dating back to 1896.
After being a virtual event in 2021, the 2022 Ring Melt featured the highest number of family members and guests attending in the program’s history, and many more streamed the event through WPAOG’s live feed. With 71 class rings donated this year, the program also broke another record, the previous high being 69 rings in 2018. This year was also special because it was the first time that a class ring from a female graduate was donated (anonymously). More facts regarding the 2022 Ring Melt: there were 12 living donors, including one who donated two rings; 11 rings came from the Class of 1973, the 50-Year Affiliation Class of the class of 2023; and one of the rings, that of MAJ Howell H. Jordan Jr. ’57, was the great uncle of Haley Seaward ’23.
When Ron Turner ’58 proposed the idea of a “Ring Memorial Program” in the May/June 1999 edition of ASSEMBLY magazine, he wrote, “Hopefully, this program will make West Point class rings of the future even more meaningful than those of the past.” 22 years later, his vision has become a reality, as the members of the Class of 2023 will soon realize come Ring Weekend in August when they don that “bold mold of [melted] gold” courtesy of WPAOG’s Class Ring Memorial Program.