Newburgh Jeweler Has a Role in West Point Ring Melting Ceremony
In the past, I have shared with you some of my stories about growing up an Army Brat. My father graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA), he was part of the Class of 1961. While I was growing up we had the opportunity to travel and live in many places but some of my fondest memories were of living at West Point in the early 1970s. This could be the main reason I want to share some news from West Point that took place today.
Today they held the Ring Melting Ceremony for the Class of 2022. This is a relatively new tradition to West Point if you consider that the USMA has been established since 1802. According to the West Point Association of Graduates Facebook page, this program was developed in 1999 by West Point graduate LTC (Ret.) Ron Turner Class of 1958. It is something that links the West Point Grads of the past to the Cadets of the present and beyond. It bridges the past into the future of the Long Gray Line.
The concept according to what I watched and read, is that past graduates or their families donate the class ring of a West Point Graduate to the Class Ring Memorial Program. The ring is then melted down with others during a ceremony like today's into a legacy bar of gold that is used by the current West Point class to make their rings. They also hold back some of the gold from the new legacy bar so that they can use the shavings in ceremonies going forward. That ensures each ring would in theory contain gold from every ring donated.
From watching the video of today's ceremony (see below) I learned that Kavanaugh Jewelers in Newburgh was the jeweler that removed the stones from the rings so that they would be ready for the crucible and in turn the melting process. I had the opportunity to speak with Tom and Kim Kavanaugh about the ceremony which they are honored to be a part of each year and they shared with me that the stones they removed from the rings are returned to the donor or their family.
I also learned over the 20-year span of this program 617 rings had been donated going as far back as 1896 and as recent as 2001. Today they added another 52 rings to total 669. This year's rings included donations from the 2022's legacy class, the Class of 1972 which just happened to be the class my father was a Tactical Officer for when we lived at West Point. Today's ring donation spanned the years 1916 to 1990.
As someone who still has my father's ring, it is nice to know that this program exists if we decide we aren't keeping the ring in the family.
UPDATE: Since this article was first published I have been contacted by Anthony P. Ferraiuolo. Turns out that he put this program into action with the first class, The Class of 2002 also known as the Bicentennial Class. At the time Anthony was the Director of Class Support at the Association of Graduates. He is the person who reaches out to Kavanaugh Jewelers to see if they would be part of the program. Anthony also is an honorary member of the Class of 1961 which was my Dad's class.
The videos below were record at today's ring melt ceremony for the class of 2022. The first video covers the beginning of the ceremony. The second video shows the actual ceremony when the rings are placed in the crucible. the reading of the tributes to the ring donors.