“I Wear The Ring”

Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline starts in the prologue with one of the most powerful sentences that Conroy every wrote, “I wear the ring.” Four short words that once you finish the story, understand why wearing a ring from a military school is such a big deal.

Ordering and Receiving a Class Ring {For The Citadel ~ from their website}

  • While any rising senior cadet may in the spring of the junior year be measured for and order a class ring, to be eligible to receive a class ring, a cadet must meet these two conditions:
    1. Have an academic classification of 1A.
    2. have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.000.
  • To participate in the Ring Ceremony, the cadet must:
    1. Have passed the Corps Physical Fitness Test as outlined in Chapter 5 of the White Book.
  • Cadets who have met academic requirements to receive the ring but have not met the Commandant’s Physical Effectiveness Requirements to participate in the Ring Presentation may pick up their rings on the Monday following Parents’ Weekend at the Holliday Alumni Center.
  • If a cadet fails to meet requirements to receive the ring with his/her class, the Alumni Association will normally hold the ring until the end of the following spring semester.
  • If the cadet has not met requirements to receive the ring by that time, it will be returned to the manufacturer.
  • The cadet may not order the ring, again, until all requirements to receive the ring have been met.
  • The eligibility of cadets who failed to meet ring eligibility in October of their senior year will be checked again in January.
  • The rings of cadets who have not yet received their rings but will receive their diplomas in May or will be eligible to participate in the commencement ceremony will be cleared to receive their rings before commencement.
  • No other cadets will be cleared to receive their rings until after commencement.

These are minimum requirements and will not be waived. Students should see the Registrar to confirm eligibility.

[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/125, ƒ/8, (35mm = 48)]

This is the largest group I have seen with the ring. It means a lot to the family when a cadet not only wears the ring, but has the insignia facing them while she is still attending school and at graduation the entire class turns their rings to facing out. They are now graduates of The Citadel.

Usually every October the senior class gets their rings and has a big blow out ceremony.

This is the moment our son Nelson Lalli got his ring during Ring Weekend for the seniors at the Citadel on October 8, 2010. [NIKON D3S, 122.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 3200, 1/80, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 300)]
After they get their ring they run the the barracks where the lower class cadets in their company have prepared a special toasting for their seniors. [NIKON D3S, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 280, 1/8000, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 24)]
[NIKON D3S, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 280, 1/8000, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 14)]

Traditionally after a few other celebrations that evening they get to walk through a large ring with their date and often the tradition is their mother.

Dorie Griggs with her son Nelson Lalli and his date.[NIKON D3, 122.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/100, ƒ/3.5, (35mm = 122)]

After the ring they walk through the Sword Arch.

Ring Weekend for the seniors at the Citadel [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/80, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 78)]

Then COVID-19

The Citadel Class of 2021 missed this tradition as well as many others. This year Taylor Skardon went out of his way to try and make up for what was out of The Citadel’s control by having the ring setup in the Alumni Center for any graduating seniors on their graduation day.

Taylor Skardon served in the Navy for 30 years. The 1982 Citadel graduate and current adjunct professor and head of The Citadel Parents’ Program.

Here we are setup in the Alumni Center for the day, taking photos for any cadet that wanted photos. [photo by Dorie Griggs]

All the students at The Citadel during COVID-19 have missed out on traditions that are why most of them chose to go to The Citadel. You see many have read Pat Conroy’s The Lord’s of Discipline and chose to have a similar experience for their college years.

While there are many traditions that incoming classes had no idea would be happening to them, so too have these students who have endured more than a “Hell Week!” For them, COVID-19 has redefined what it means to be part of The Lord’s of Discipline. No one truly admires those college years as much as with hindsight. This class has a unique 2020 hindsight.