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Citadel News Service
8 Oct 2010

Citadel ring a symbol of duty, honor and leadership

The Citadel ring is a bond of shared adversity. It is a signal to others that duty and honor are held in high personal esteem and it is a mark that will stay with graduates long after they shed their cadet uniforms, Citadel President Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa said today.

The Class of 2011 – 415 seniors in all – received their Citadel rings as family, friends and Citadel faculty and staff watched from inside a packed McAlister Field House. Receiving a class ring is one of several milestones in a cadet’s time at The Citadel and today’s presentation marks the start of Parents’ Weekend, which includes a military dress parade, performances by the Rifle Legion and Regimental Band and Pipes, academic open houses and promotion ceremony for the Class of 2014. Click here for a complete schedule of events.

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Rosa, a 1973 graduate of The Citadel, said wearing a Citadel ring marks a cadet as someone who has a duty to be a leader, who demands excellence of themselves and who inspires it in others.

“For you who wear the ring, integrity and character are your most prized possessions,” he said. “After you graduate, you will no longer have your uniform, but you will have the ring,” Rosa said. “And people will see the ring and judge you and The Citadel by the way you live your lives and treat others.”

To receive a Citadel class ring cadets must be proficient in all areas – academics, military duty and discipline.

The Class of 2011 rings include the gold from three rings donated to The Citadel through the Band of Gold program. The rings belonging to Herman B. Brown, ’41, Henry M. Anderson, ’43, and Edward C. Jones, ’67, were melted and used to create this year's class rings. The Band of Gold program was established in response to requests from alumni who wanted to designate a final caretaker for what is a cherished symbol of their Citadel education and their Citadel experience.

The Citadel ring has symbolized outstanding accomplishments both by the Corps of Cadets and South Carolina. Perhaps the most popular feature of the ring is the "Star of the West," which commemorates the firing on a Union supply steamer by a detachment of Citadel cadets in January 1861. This action was the powder keg that set off the War Between the States.

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Every aspect of the ring is symbolic of the history and tradition of the Cadet Corps from the Mexican War through both World Wars, to the present day, for The Citadel is a military college and the leadership, courage, and integrity found in good officers is embodied by the sword, found on the left shank of the ring. Crossing the sword is the rifle, the symbol of the infantry. Of equal importance in this world of political aggrandizement and perpetual military conflict are the concepts of freedom acquired and maintained only through a willingness to fight for it represented by the rifle surmounted by the oak leaves of toughness and victory blessed by peace, represented by the laurel wreath.

On the right shank of the ring are found the United States and South Carolina colors, which depict the unity of the state and federal government. The cannon balls at the bottom of this shank indicate the continuing link between the Old Citadel on Marion Square and the Greater Citadel.

When the college moved to its present location, the Civil War cannon balls piled before the Old Citadel were left behind. The oval crest has a reproduction of the palmetto tree in its background.

Aside from representing the state tree of South Carolina, the Palmetto symbolizes a cadet-trained regiment of infantry that fought in the Mexican War and it represents a fort, which was built of Palmetto logs, that repelled a large British invasion fleet during the Revolutionary War. The two oval shields at the base of the tree are replicas of the state seals.

*Source: The Citadel Alumni Association

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