(Photo: US Army)
The class rings that the graduating cadets of the United States Military Academy at West Point aren't casually ordered from an outside provider like Jostens. Each graduating class designs its own ring. Since 2002, the metal includes melted down rings of previous graduating classes, donated for this purpose. Seth Lipsky writs in the New York Post:
They’re made from gold from class rings that were worn by earlier graduates and that have been donated, melted and mixed with new gold to make rings for the following year’s first-class cadets.
A small amount of gold is preserved after each melt so that every graduating class will have traces of gold from all the rings that have been donated since the program began.
This has enabled every class since 2002 to “grip hands” with graduates from the past.
The graduating class for 2016 decided that it wanted a new source material for its rings: steel from the World Trade Center towers destroyed on September 11, 2001. Cathy Kilner of the Association of Graduates explains:
“They were raised seeing the footage of what happened and the consequences of that day,” she said.
-via Kevin Brady