I wear the ring.

“I wear the ring.” That is the opening line of a book entitled “The Lords of Discipline,” written by Pat Conroy. It is a novel based on his experiences at The Citadel along with the experiences of others who attended similar colleges in the 1960’s such as The Virginia Military Institute, Annapolis, West Point and The Air Force Academy. The ring he refers to is the class ring worn by graduates of The Citadel who have not only survived the tough educational and physical requirements of the college but also adhered to the honour code which states that a Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or condone anyone who does. Thus if you wear the ring you have proved yourself mentally, physically and morally. Those who are adjudged to have broken the honour code are dismissed from the college. The honour court can even demand the ring back from graduates if, in their business life, they break the code.
However on this eve of All -Saints, when we remember those who have kept the faith over the centuries and transmitted it down for us to keep, there is another aspect to The Ring. A Citadel graduate can stipulate, in their will, that upon their death their ring be given back to the ring foundation, melted down and the gold then added to the new gold being used to create the next class rings. There were actually six rings added to this year’s class, including Pat Conroy’s, as he died this past year. Thus there is a continuity, a communion of cadets which mirrors the communion of the saints in the church.
To wear the ring is a great honour and a great responsibility As the Foundation President stated in his address at this year’s ceremony, you may take off the uniform, but you never take off the ring. When people see that ring on a person’s hand it means something, it carries weight for it says something about the person wearing it.
We may not wear a ring to distinguish ourselves as Christians, we may not have any visible signal at all that we are part of the great army of saints who have faithfully and patiently kept the faith down through the generations but people are still aware of who we are and we are still ambassadors for Christ, just as Citadel graduates are ambassadors for their college. So as we remember this week the saints who have kept the faith and handed it down through the generations, let us dedicate ourselves once more to be loyal ambassadors in our generation. We may not wear a ring, but we carry a cross.

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