Answered By: Marie Rose
Last Updated: Nov 17, 2015     Views: 156

The ring symbolizes the history and traditions of both the Corps of Cadets and the state of South Carolina.

The sword, found on the left shank of the ring, represents the military officer. Crossing the sword is the rifle which represents the infantry. The laurel leaves and the wreath represent peace.

The star on the right shank of the ring stands for the "Star of the West," a ship sent to supply Fort Sumter. On January 9, 1861 a detachment of Citadel cadets succeeded in firing upon it, and turning it back before it had a chance to reinforce the fort. This action took place three full months before the fort was actually attacked, beginning the Civil War.

Also on the right shank of the ring are found the United States and South Carolina flags. This depicts the unity of state and federal governments. The cannon balls at the bottom of the shank indicate the continuing link between the old Citadel at Marion Square, and the present Citadel, next to Hampton Park. When the college moved here in 1919 the cannon balls were left behind.

The oval crest (at the top of the ring) has a reproduction of the palmetto tree, the state tree of South Carolina, in the background. The palmetto represents the palmetto log fort, Fort Sullivan, which successfully turned back the British war ships during the Revolutionary War. Later, it was renamed Fort Moultrie. The two oval shields at the base of the tree are replicas of the front and back of the South Carolina state seal.

There are three leaves on the ring. The oak leaf near the muzzle of the rifle stands for strength. The laurel leaves under the tip of the sword blade stand for victory. (In Greek and Roman time they were used to make the wreaths of heroes.) The wreath encircling the rifle and the sword is made of olive leaves. They stand for peace.

The tradition has been to wear the ring with the numerals facing the wearer. Upon graduation, the ring is turned so the numerals face away from the wearer. According to a tradition reported by a 1993 graduate, there is a tradition among some cadets and alumni that the ridges on the underside of the ring signify all those difficult individuals whom a cadet encounters, but that fade in one's memory just as the ridges are worn smooth with the years.

The members of the Class of 1944 received their rings as juniors at a special ring hop in May 1943, only five months after the Class of 1943 had received theirs, at a ring hop in December 1942. This was the only time that the members of a class received their rings as juniors. This was due to the extraordinary wartime situation. The juniors underwent Army basic training in the summer of 1943 at various forts and posts, then returned to The Citadel in October to complete their coursework. They received commissions and diplomas in 1944. (Source: Dennis D. Nicholson, A History of The Citadel: The Years of Summerall and Clark, pp. 199-201. U430 .C5 N53 1994)

The Ring has been manufactured by Jostens, Inc., of Minneapolis, Minn., since 2002 (class of 2003 Ring).

The Citadel Ring is one of the heaviest all-gold college rings in the United States. Rings are manufactured in one piece construction, contour in shape, of 10 karat yellow gold, hardened to a minimum of Rockwell B93 and a maximum of RockB97. The male cadet and non-cadet class ring of size 10 weighs 18 pennyweight (pennyweight = .05 oz. = 2 grams). The female cadet and non-cadet class ring of size 7 weighs 14 pennyweight and is an exact replica of its male counterpart.

The inside of the male ring has three lines of engraving: 21 spaces on the first and second lines and 12 spaces on the third line. The inside of the female ring has three lines of engraving: 21 spaces on the first line, 16 on the second, and 10 spaces on the third line. The engraving is of the purchaser's choosing. Classes from the 1940s through the 1980s had engraved on the inside of the Ring their name, home town, degree and major.

There are several college rings that have heavier weights: Virginia Tech = 26 pennyweight.

Ring manufacturers over the years have included: Patmar, Balfour, Elliott, Art Carved and Jostens.

There is no truth to the rumor that the alumni pay for part of the ring. It is paid entirely by the cadet. (Sources: communication from The Citadel Office of Alumni Affairs, August 31, 2006; contract with Jostens, Inc.; Brigadier, March 17, 1962, p. 8; The Guidon, 2002-2003, pp. 84-86)

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