"Each class designs its own rings. The ingots of the class of 2016’s rings were poured earlier in the year at the Pease & Curren refinery in Rhode Island. That ceremony, known as the “ring melt,” is a tradition begun for the rings of West Point’s bicentennial class in 2002."
"Since then, it’s not just any gold that goes into these rings. 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."
"This year, 34 class rings were donated from classes between 1924 and 1985. Some families donating rings sent family members to the ring melt, where they placed the rings in a crucible. A film of the event shows a number of them, including Tom O’Neil, who donated the ring worn by his grandfather."
"The grandfather, Colonel Thomas O’Neil, had been in the class of 1934. His grandson had carried his ring through two combat tours in Iraq and two years in Afghanistan. At the ring melt, he spoke of what the moment would have meant to his grandfather."
"Five daughters of Col. Leo Hugh Lennon, who had appeared in arms in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive, placed his class ring in the crucible. Others did the same, some saluting."
"This new tradition has brought to 356 the number of rings whose gold is in the latest ingot."
"It was the Class of 2016 itself that decided to include in the alloy of the rings for this year steel from the World Trade Center..."