“I wear the ring!”
Four words formed by four syllables were uttered by nearly 500 seniors after The Citadel’s annual Ring Presentation Ceremony on Friday afternoon in McAlister Field House to begin Parents Weekend.
The ceremony included our senior cadet-student-athletes.
Proud mothers and fathers, grandparents, siblings and cousins crowded the field house for the annual ceremony in which seniors received The Citadel’s prized possession – their class ring.
While the navy blue chair-back seats and light-blue bleachers served as the seating area for the estimated 2,500 people in attendance, all eyes were focused on the excited and smiling faces of the anxious seniors sitting in the middle who now “wear the ring.”
There is no doubting that each experienced the feelings of accomplishment and pride as Frank Gibson ’69 of Beaufort and president of The Citadel Alumni Association informed them that they are “now full-fledged Citadel men and women who have earned the right to wear the ring.”
In addressing the assembly, Gibson proclaimed that the ring represents “those who have gone before you and those who have served our country. You are now recognized as principled leaders who will do what is right and not convenient.”
With that, Gibson instructed the seniors to “remove their (white) gloves and carefully remove the ring from the box. Place the ring on your left hand ring finger with the “2014” facing you, and when you graduate in May, you will turn the ring around and face the world with honor.”
With that, the assembly exploded into applause while members of the Class of 2014 congratulated and hugged each other.
It was indeed a long road.
Lt. Gen. John Rosa, President of The Citadel and a 1973 graduate, opened the 1 pm ceremony with the sentence, “I wear the ring.” He explained that “the band of gold is a bond of all Citadel alumni.”
Each Company voted to select one individual to present their rings and the presenters included the likes of Tom Culler ’50 (Band Company), Capt. Ken Boes ’84 (Delta Company) and Col. Leo Mercado ’79 (Victor Company), The Citadel’s Commandant of Cadets.
Adorned in their full dress uniforms, the seniors accepted the ring with the responsibilities of those who wear it.
Unlike many Citadel ceremonies, however, this one has changed over the years.
While the ceremony, which is coordinated by The Citadel Alumni Association, was held in spacious McAlister Field House – the most recent site – it had been held in Summerall Chapel and Mark Clark Hall in the past.
In years gone by it was also a closed ceremony, and then two individuals per senior were permitted to attend and eventually moved to the Field House to accommodate more witnesses to the event.
Further, the ceremony was originally held on Thursday afternoon but was moved to Friday in the 1990s to further enhance the Parents Day Weekend.
The highlight of the weekend comes on Saturday when the football team hosts Appalachian State with a 2pm kickoff. Another feature of the Parents Day Weekend is the annual halftime performance by the famed Summerall Guards. (There are additional festivities for the weekend.)
Immediately after the 75-minute ceremony which was concluded with the singing of the Alma Mater, outside of McAlister Field House families congregated with their Citadel Cadet, each of which now “wears the ring.”
Congratulations to the Class of 2014. You’ve earned it!