US Military Academy, West Point Traditions
The US Military Academy lies in the scenic hills of West Point, New York. It was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1801 and has since generated notable alumni. The US military academy has produced two presidents of the United States and numerous famous U.S. generals. The mission of the military school, known as “the Academy” or “West Point,” is to educate, train, and inspire students, typically referred to as “cadets,” and prepare them for careers as officers in the United States military. Due to the Academy’s prestige, only 1,300 new students are admitted each year. Once admitted, cadets must attend rigorous academic classes, develop skills in military leadership, and participate in competitive athletics. They must also observe the Cadet Honor Code, which forbids cadets from lying, cheating, stealing, or tolerating those who do so. Over the years, the unique mission and history of the Academy has generated a number of traditions. Below are a few intriguing traditions that started at the U.S. Military Academy. Spinning Sedgwick’s Spurs General Sedgwick was a Union major general in the Civil War and was one of the many famous military officers to graduate from West Point. He was well liked by his troops, and his death during the battle of 1864 was met with widespread sorrow. To commemorate his accomplishments, a large bronze statue of Sedgwick, complete with free-spinning spurs on his boots, was built at the Academy. Shortly after the statue was erected, a legend sprang up among the cadets, claiming that students who dressed in full dress uniform and spun Sedgwick’s spurs at midnight would have good luck during their exams. The legend has since become a tradition among cadets, and although leaving your room after midnight is officially against regulation, this violation is typically overlooked.
History of the US Military Academy Class Ring
Nowadays, class rings are typically associated with high school graduation. However, the practice was first started by cadets from the Academy in 1835. The ring was created to symbolize the unity forged between their class of cadets as well as their respect for the Academy. Originally, cadets were in charge of creating the design for the class ring. However, in 1869, a ring committee was established in order to standardize the design of the ring and provide greater uniformity. The basic design includes the Academy Crest on one side and the Class Crest on the other. A unique class motto is also embossed into the side, along with the cadet’s year of graduation.Traditionally, the ring is worn on the left hand, though in recent years, most cadets have chosen to wear the ring on their right hand. Before graduation from West Point, the ring is worn upside down with the Class Crest closer to the heart. This symbolizes the closeness of the cadet class. After graduation, the ring is flipped, with the Academy Crest facing the heart, signifying dedication to the Academy itself.
Goats vs. Engineers
For many years, members of the Academy were not allowed to return home for Thanksgiving. In 1905, in order to celebrate the holiday, some cadets from the class of 1907 came together to play football. They divided the teams according to the players’ grade point average; the academic bottom half of the class were called “Goats” while the top half were termed “Engineers.” Although the cadets are now able to go home for Thanksgiving holiday, the game, referred to as the “Goat-Engineer Game,” has become a time-honored tradition at West Point and is played by the senior class every year preceding the annual Army-Navy football match. The U.S. Military Academy has a tradition-rich campus that has produced many amazing military members. Low VA Rates exists to help West Point graduates and other military members find affordable home loans.