Junior Ring Reveal. A Norwich Tradition.
The ring’s the thing, as generations of Norwich University alumni will tell you. The class jewelry, as large as World Series championship rings and traditionally worn loud and proud on right hands, are no mere baubles. They represent triumph, tradition and inclusion.
Norwich class rings, presented in junior-year ceremonies to third-year Corps of Cadets members, are prized possessions, studiously crafted and rigorously earned. A student committee spends months designing them; class cohorts spend semesters meeting academic and behavioral standards to achieve and receive them. Norwich’s ring tradition began in spring 1923, when the senior class adopted a class ring for each member who would graduate in June. In time, ring design and presentation shifted to the junior year; a policy to standardize the ring’s design emerged in the mid-1960s.
Norwich rings, like the service academy rings on which they’re modeled, feature a class crest on one side, the school crest on the other and a bezel surrounding a stone or similar inset on top. Each class may design one side of the ring; the other side, dubbed the “Norwich side” or the “1819 side” for the university’s founding year stamped there, must follow a Norwich University standard.
By tradition, cadets wear their Norwich rings class-side up until graduation. Upon graduation, cadets turn the rings 1819 side up, so the word “HONOR” appears closest to the cadets’ heart and “NORWICH UNIVERSITY” around the bezel’s circumference faces out, where observers can see it prominently.
THE TWO SIDES TO THE NORWICH CADET CLASS RING
THE NORWICH 1819 SIDE
Norwich University, established in 1819, is the United States’ first private military college and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. The school’s founder, Alden Partridge, a U.S. Army captain, understood that a structured military lifestyle combined with rigorous academics would benefit all students — whether their desired careers were in the military or the private sector.
These sabers flank both sides of the ring’s Norwich University shield, representing kinship with Vermont’s first cavalry. Today, cadet officers wear sabers in lieu of carrying rifles.
The scroll, flowing on either side of the shield, distunguishes the ring wearers as members of Norwich University’s Corps of Cadets.
This aegis depicts a cannon and an engineer’s transit in the foreground of a mountain range. Morning sun rises above it. The cannon represents Norwich University’s military heritage; an engineer’s transit represents its academic mission. The sun rising over the Green Mountains represents the light of knowledge flowering on “The Hill.” The numerals “1819” mark the university’s founding year.
The soaring bird, surmounted on the Norwich shield, depicts our national symbol, symbolizing courage and strength.
This scroll, superimposed upon the eagle’s talons, stands for character and its fundamental attributes. Honor is a virtue impelling loyalty and courage; truthfulness and self-respect; justice and generosity. Honor is never in question for cadets who are true in thought, word and deed.
“I Will Try”
Our school’s famous motto was said to have been U.S. Army Col. and former Norwich University President Truman B. Ransom’s Mexican War rallying cry. It had been Ransom’s answer when Gen. Winfield Scott ordered him to storm and take the fort at Chapultepec. Ransom died in battle, but his phrase endures, conveying the university’s fearless spirit.
THE CADET SIDE
Each class is free to design its side of the ring within a standard that continues the university’s distinctive tradition. Inspirations come from everywhere.
Some inspirations are somber. The Class of 2014 included a Chinook helicopter, nodding to 31 U.S. Special Operations troops who died when their Chinook was shot down in Aug. 6, 2011, in eastern Afghanistan. The Class of 2021 included flags at half-staff, nodding to the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas Strip shooting that killed 60 people and wounded more than 800.
Other inspirations are recently historical or whimsical. The Class of 2017, for example, was the first to use Sabine Field and so included the field’s scoreboard. The Class of 2015 included a passing cloud to remind class members that temporary challenges become surmountable with faith and courage.
Many classes incorporated Latin phrases. The Class of 2013 included Nixor Fortiter: Latin for “Strive Valiantly.” The Class of 1992 had “Fides Sacrificium Honor,” or “Faith, Sacrifice, Honor.”
A 10-member class Ring Committee designs the class side of the Corps of Cadets’ ring during the sophomore year’s spring semester. The committee is elected online in the preceding fall semester.
By tradition, students inscribe a secret message inside their rings that relates to their Norwich experience.
Cadets often order two different class rings once they have earned the right to wear them — a garrison ring and a field ring. The garrison ring, a gold ring with a stone, is the larger, flashier ring. The field ring, introduced in the 1990s, is typically made of a lustrium metal alloy, often nickel and chromium, and can come with or without a stone.
For ordering information and to see rings from prior years, click here (new browser window will open).