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The Spirit of the Rings:

The 2020 Class Ring Memorial Program

By Keith J. Hamel, WPAOG staff

The West Point Class Ring of MG (R) Hobart Hewett, Class of 1919, was the oldest ring donated at this year’s Ring Melt ceremony.

Hobey Hewett, the grandson of Major General Hobert Hewett, Class of 1919, and the first presenter at the 20th Annual West Point Class Ring Memorial “Melt,” captured the significance and sublimity of the ceremony perfectly when he told the amazing story of how his grandfather’s ring became part of the Ring Melt for the Class of 2021.

General Hewett died in 1967, and his class ring passed on to his daughter, Hobey Hewett’s mother. The ring was missing for decades, but, about two weeks before the Ring Melt Ceremony, Hewett and his brother were cleaning out his mother’s house and found the ring. He then learned about WPAOG’s Ring Memorial Program and worked feverishly with WPAOG’s Class Services to get the ring into this year’s program on short notice.

“It was the spirit of the ring that got it here,” Hewett said, offering an explanation as to why the ring was serendipitously found. “It wanted to be here, it wanted to come home, and it wants to be worn on the fingers of the cadets in the Class of 2021.” The Class of 1919, as it turns out, entered as the Class of 1921, but they were graduated early due to the need for officers during World War I. Despite this, his class maintained their 1921 crest; so, General Hewett’s ring could be considered a centennial gift to the Class of 2021. The power and magnitude of this story caught Cadet Katarina Christianson, President of the Class of 2021, a bit off guard, and she had to wipe away a tear from her eye before announcing the name of the next ring presenter.

Photo Left: riends and family look at the donated West Point class rings before they are placed into the crucible, including Jon Greene and CDT Jon Greene Jr., Class of 2021, who donated the West Point class ring of Edwin B. Greene ’47.

Forty more rings, each with its own story and each with its own spirit, were placed in the crucible to be melted and used in making the Class of 2021’s rings. And several more times throughout the ceremony cadets and guests got a bit choked up listening to what the rings meant to their former wearers.

“He loved the Academy and never missed a reunion in his 99 years,” Daniel Ferris ’71 said about his father, Colonel Edwin Ferris ’35.

“The last thing he did before he passed was give his ring to his grandson,” Jon Greene said of his father Edwin Greene ’47, whose grandson is Drennan Greene of the Class of 2021.

“It is likely that this ring bears signs of physical sacrifice in its gold,” said Chaplain Matt Pawlikowski ’86, regarding the ring of living donor Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Robert W. Faulkender ’57, a Purple Heart recipient.

“He was West Point to the core” said Rose Bloomfield about her husband, Kenneth Bloomfield Jr. ’64, “and his is a ring that has history, a ring that has love, and a ring that has hope for all who come after him.”

Photo Right: The 41 donated West Point class rings worn by past West Point graduates were melted into an ingot, which will be incorporated into the rings of the Class of 2021.

Finally, upon presenting the ring of Major Christopher Thomas ’01, the youngest grad to have a ring in the Ring Memorial Program, Melissa Thomas ’04, his spouse, told the audience how Chris, a prior prepster who graduated in December 2001, was quite often the oldest cadet around. “He was nicknamed ‘old man,’ and he would get a kick out of being the youngest grad with a ring in today’s event,” Thomas said. She then continued, “The last time Chris was at West Point was in 2011 for his 10-year class reunion; so, every 10 years from now, a little piece of him will be coming back when the Class of 2021 has its 10-year reunions.”

“Listening to the stories and seeing people tear or choke up gave me chills,” said Cadet Adam McElligott, the Class Ring & Crest Chair for the Class of 2021. He also got chills walking the crucible containing the 41 donated rings to Bartlett Hall, where a special station had been set up to perform the melting. “I couldn’t believe how much history I was holding at one time,” McElligott said. “For us to take these items and melt the grads’ experiences all down so that the result could later be distributed evenly to my entire class in the form of our new class rings… that’s just awesome.”

Adding to the splendor and grandeur of the 20th Annual Ring Melt was the venue in which it was held. For the second time, the event was held at West Point, after being held at a foundry in Warwick, RI its first 18 years. Specifically, it was held in the Haig Room, on the sixth floor of the Jefferson Library. With its panoramic views of Trophy Point, the Hudson River, and the Wind Gate formed by Storm King Mountain and Breakneck Ridge, this room served as the perfect backdrop for an event designed to bind generations of the Long Gray Line to the permanence of West Point and its eternal values: Duty, Honor, Country.

Right before handing over the gold bar to a representative from the Balfour ring company to be used in the making of the Class of 2021’s class rings, Cadet Christianson addressed the families of ring donors gathered in the ballroom of the West Point Club for the Ring Melt luncheon: “This ceremony symbolizes the unity of the past and the present…Today, the donation of your rings endows our rings with the spirit of high ideals, sacrifice, honor, and duty to the nation…The expectation is now set—for us to do better, to be braver, to always do the right thing, and to serve with honor, as you and your families have done before us. We will rise to the expectation that has been set for us today.”  To learn more about the Ring Memorial Program, visit WestPoint AOG.org/RingMemorialProgram or call us at 845.446.1614.

Photo: Class officers and members of the Class of 2021, WPAOG Director of Class Services Cathy Kilner '90 and VP of Alumni Services Terence Sinkfield '99 pose with the ingot made from the melted gold of 41 donated West Point rings worn by past graduates.

Printed in West Point Magazine, Spring 2020, all rights reserved.