Memorial Day is commemorated on the last Monday of May in the United States, honoring the sacrifice of the men and women of the armed forces. This year, the United States Military Academy will see its class of 2017 graduate on Memorial Day weekend. As the class moves from training into active duty, they acknowledge the legacy that they are carrying on for the higher purpose and calling that has shaped the United States and its role in the world.
It is tradition for every class of the United States Military Academy to commission a crest and motto. These symbols are an expression of the entire class’s pledge to carry on the legacy of the academy. This year, the 2017 class crest and motto goes further to recognize the class’s commitment to carry out their duty, not only for their country, but for the world.
The eagle in their crest is positioned to embrace the world with seven wing tips representing the seven continents of the world and their motto emblazoned on the top, “So others may dream.” Behind the eagle are six stars and seven stripes, acknowledging the link between the current class and the class of 1967, their predecessors from 50 years past.
The 2017 crest and motto reflect the founding values of the United States, to open the way for the world to dream, not just small dreams of economic prosperity, or even democratic freedom, but a dream that speaks to the very essence of humanity, expressed in the Declaration of Independence, to live a life that honors the “inalienable rights” of every person and the source by which it was endowed, the “Creator.”
This dream has motivated the United States in many pivotal moments in its history. During World War II the United States sent men and women to both the European and Pacific arenas, not only to protect the freedoms of its citizens, but open the way for multiple nations and people to become independent, self-governing and prosperous. During the Korean War, the United States joined the United Nations forces, sending young men and women to serve on shores unknown to preserve the chance for people they never met to dream freely. One can even say that this founding dream prompted the United States to pursue the establishment of the United Nations and subsequent movements like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The graduating class of 2017 will leave with gold rings emblazoned with their class crest and motto. Their rings contain the gold of rings from classes as early as 1914, tangibly signifying the connection between the generations of men and women in the United States armed forces who have sacrificed and worked towards giving substance to the founding dream of the nation that has undergirded its success and defined its leadership in the past and into the future.