During the annual Ring Melt, the CRMP takes graduates’ donated class rings, ceremoniously places each ring into a crucible, melts the rings to form a single gold bar, and gifts this gold bar to the newest members of the Long Gray Line to be used in the making of their class rings. Through this process, the figurative aspects of “grip hands” become literal, imbuing each new West Point class ring with all the strength, wisdom, and principles of the “Corps of an earlier day.” Their legacy lives thanks to the Class Ring Memorial Program.
Every year since 2001, the West Point Association of Graduates has accepted donations of rings from West Point graduates—both deceased and living—and melted those rings into an ingot of gold at an annual Ring Melt Ceremony. Most of the resulting gold ingot is added to the commercial gold that will constitute the next graduating class’s rings. A small portion of each year’s gold ingot, however, does not go into that year’s rings. Instead, that gold is preserved and added to the rings that are being melted for the following year’s Ring Melt. Once the new ingot is made, again a shaving is taken from that ingot to be used in the subsequent Ring Melt. The gold shavings are known as the Legacy Gold because it contains gold from every ring that has been donated over the years. Because of this Ring Melt process, each West Point ring since 2002 contains gold from class rings of previous generations of the Long Gray Line.
Class Ring Donation
We are now accepting ring donations for the United States Military Academy Class of 2026 Ring Melt. This Ring Melt Ceremony will be January 2025, date TBD.
Important: Please refer to our West Point Association of Graduates Ring Melt Policy here.
The following must be received prior to September 1, 2024 to be included in the Ring Melt for the Class of 2026:
- Completed donation form
- Class ring
- Memorial article or biography for the ring owner
- Stones are not included in the Ring Melt. Please have them removed prior to mailing. If you are having difficulty locating a trusted jeweler, please email RingMemorialProgram@wpaog.org.
- If you choose to have the ring appraised for tax purposes, please do so before mailing.
- We recommend insuring your package for tracking purposes.
Each class ring must have an accompanying memorial article or biography. In keeping with the spirit of the program, to inspire cadets through the legacy of a Corps of an earlier day, we are not accepting anonymous ring donations.
- If you are donating in honor of a loved one who has an article in TAPS or ASSEMBLY, or an article approved for an upcoming publication of TAPS, that article will be used.
- If you are donating in honor of a loved one who has not had an article published, we encourage next of kin to follow the memorial article guidelines and submit a TAPS article.
- Marilee Meyer is our point of contact for writing and submitting memorial articles. She can be contacted directly at Marilee.Meyer@wpaog.org.
- If you are donating your ring as a living donor, please submit a biography written in the 3rd person that is not more than 900 words.
- Here are some of the things you may want to include.
To read about the different Ring Melt ceremonies and each donor’s biography, please click the links below. For questions regarding donations for the Class Ring Memorial Program, contact Class Services at 845.446.1614 or send an email to RingMemorialProgram@wpaog.org.
You may also use this form if you wish to bequeath your class ring to the Memorial Class Ring Program (questions about tax deductibility should be posed to a tax attorney; WPAOG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization).
- The WPAOG will accept rings for a specific melt on a first come, first accepted basis, up to 70 rings.
- Only gold West Point class rings are accepted.
- Miniatures purchased as official class rings are accepted.
- Gifted miniatures, pendants, lapel pins, etc. from graduates to loved ones are not accepted.
- All stones should be removed prior to donation.
- Donating a Class Ring
- A graduate’s ring may be donated to the Ring Melt Program once.
- Including a piece of a Class Ring into a melt is not considered a donation and is supported on a case-by-case basis. Individuals who include a piece of their ring are not considered a donor.
- Individuals who donate a class ring to the Ring Memorial Program will receive a Tax Receipt, as the donation is considered a “Gift in Kind”.
Read the full WPAOG Ring Melt Policy here.
A small portion of each year’s gold ingot, however, does not go into that year’s rings.
Instead, that gold is preserved and added to the rings that are being melted for the following year’s Ring
Melt. Once the new ingot is made, again a shaving is taken from that ingot to be used in the subsequent
Ring Melt. The gold shavings are known as the Legacy Gold because it contains gold from every ring that
has been donated over the years. Because of this Ring Melt process, each West Point ring since 2002 contains gold from class rings of previous generations of the Long Gray Line.
The Legacy Gold contains trace elements of gold from 740 class rings donated over the past 22 years and
spanning the Classes of 1896 to 2004. These rings were worn by graduates who served in the Army, the
Marine Corps, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard. The graduates served our nation in armed conflicts
around the globe—in the Philippines, the Mexican Expedition of 1916, both World Wars, Korea, the
Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Panama, the Gulf War, Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
The oldest ring that is part of the Legacy Gold belonged to Colonel Percy Myers Kessler, Class of 1896, who
fought in the Philippines Insurrection and whose son and grandson also graduated from the Academy. One
of the newest rings was recently donated anonymously by a member of the Class of 2004 and is the first ring to be donated by a female graduate. The ring was donated in honor of the USMA graduates who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Nine four-star generals donated their rings:
• GEN Charles P. Cabell, Class of 1925
• GEN Hamilton Hawkins Howze, Class of 1930
• GEN Henry Miley, Class of 1940
• GEN George S. Blanchard and GEN John J. Hennessey, both from the Class of 1944
• GEN Lew Allen, GEN Robert Shoemaker, and GEN William J. Evans from the Class of 1946
• GEN George D. Iverson from the Class of 1957.
Another notable addition to the Legacy Gold is the class ring of Lieutenant General James “Jumping Jim”
Gavin, Class of 1929, who was not only the youngest division commander in World War II but also the
only American general officer to make four combat parachute jumps. The Legacy Gold also contains gold
from the ring of William Arcuri, Class of 1970, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and gold from the
ring of MAJ Arthur G. Bonifas ’66, who was killed in 1976 in the demilitarized zone in Korea while cutting
down a tree.
Each West Point ring symbolizes one’s commitment to Duty, Honor, Country. The gold in each ring
embodies the Long Gray Line of leaders who are united across generations by their unwavering commitment to those enduring values.
“We, as graduates of West Point, should establish a Memorial Class Ring Program…– LTC Turner ’58
whereby graduates may bequeath (or graduates’ descendants may donate) West Point class
rings for the specific purpose of incorporating the gold into the class rings of future graduates.”
In 1999, LTC (Ret.) Ron Turner ’58 submitted an article to Assembly magazine that contained the following suggestion:
In November of 2000, Turner’s idea became a reality as 31 rings were melted at the Herff Jones company in Providence, RI, and the Class of 2002 became the first to receive the gold from this historic undertaking in their rings. By 2022, a total of 740 rings have been donated to the Class Ring Memorial Program. These donated rings are a tangible sign of the enduring bonds of the Long Gray Line. May the service and sacrifice of the ring donors remain physically and symbolically with each future West Point graduating class as they proudly wear their class rings. See complete listings of ring donors organized by donor class year or alphabetically or cadet class list.
Class Ring Memorial Program – Class Year Archive
Ring Melt FAQ’s
The Class Ring Memorial Program is an initiative in which West Point graduates bequeath or donate West Point class rings for the specific purpose of incorporating the gold into the class rings of future graduates.
Only gold West Point graduate class rings are accepted. A graduate’s ring may be donated to the Ring Melt once.
The only miniature rings that are accepted are those that were worn by the West Point graduate as a class ring.
Thank you for choosing to honor your loved one in this special way! Please fill out this donation form and mail it and the ring to:
West Point Association of Graduates (WPAOG)
Attn: Class Services
698 Mills Road
West Point, NY 10996
Stones are not included in the Ring Melt. Please have them removed prior to mailing. If you are having difficulty locating a trusted jeweler, please email RingMemorialProgram@wpaog.org.
WPAOG will mail you a Gift in Kind acknowledgement letter upon receipt of the ring donation. If you plan to include the donation on your taxes, it is suggested that you have an appraisal done before donating the ring. Please consult your individual tax preparer for any additional information.
The Ring Melt typically occurs on a Friday morning in January. It is held at West Point.
Yes, we welcome a total of 4 family members with each ring donation. Please note that the ceremony is not suitable for children. Invitations with ceremony specifics will be forthcoming.
The ceremony usually lasts 1.5-2 hours. There is typically a ring donor appreciation breakfast prior to the ceremony. The ceremony concludes during a luncheon that immediately follows the Ring Melt. Ring Donors and family members are also invited to take an Insider Tour of West Point following the ceremony and luncheon. In other words, we have a wonderful morning and afternoon planned for our ring donors and family members!
WPAOG will accept rings for a specific melt on a first come, first accepted basis, up to 70 rings. If a ring is donated for inclusion in a specific melt, WPAOG must receive the ring and memorial article/biography no later than September 1st prior to that melt.
Cadets receive their rings at the start of their senior year at West Point. For a donated ring to be included in a certain class’s Ring Melt, it must be one of the first 70 rings received prior to September 1st of that cadet’s junior year. For example, if your granddaughter will graduate in 2026, her Ring Melt Ceremony will be held in January 2025. Ring donations for her class ring must be received prior to September 1, 2024.
Yes. All rings must have an accompanying Memorial Article or Biography to be a complete donation. Anonymous ring donations are not in the spirit of the program and will not be accepted.
If your loved one has had a Memorial Article published in TAPS or Assembly, that article will be used. We will be in touch with next steps; no further action is required at this time.
If your loved one has a Memorial Article submitted and scheduled to be published in TAPS, that article will be used. We will be in touch with next steps; no further action is required at this time.
If your loved one does not have a Memorial Article, we require that one be written, no longer than 900 words. Kindly submit this Memorial Article to Marilee Meyer at Marilee.Meyer@wpaog.org, no later than 60 days after your ring donation, and before September 1st.
If you are a living donor, we require a biography be written in the 3rd person, no longer than 900 words. Kindly submit this biography to RingMemorialProgram@wpaog.org no later than 60 days after your ring donation, and before September 1st.
Thank you for your thoughtful preparation! You may want to use this form for this purpose.
Please call Class Services at 845.446.1614 or email us at RingMemorialProgram@wpaog.org.
Gold: (Special Events: Individual Events) Ring Melt – Tangible Connection Between Cadets and West Point Graduates
Silver: (General Information) West Point Cadets Receive Their Class Rings Video
Silver: Circle of Excellence for the Promotional Video. View the Video that aided the Judges in deciding to choose WPAOG for this award.
Honorable Mention: Telling the Story of the West Point Ring Melt