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Full-Scale Ring Figure Returns

Male cadet and Ring Figure date smiling

Cody Talbert ’23 and his date dance in the Hall of Valor during the Ring Figure ball Nov. 19.—VMI Photo by H. Lockwood McLaughlin.

In the final days before Thanksgiving furlough, the Class of 2023 celebrated Ring Figure Nov. 18 and 19. Things seemed mostly back to normal after last year’s Ring Figure was missing some key elements of the celebration, such as the Ring Figure ball, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The five-venue, two-day event takes an entire year to plan, document, and execute. Having the opportunity to put it on full-scale again was fantastic,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Suzanne Rubenstein, director of activities for the commandant’s office.

Cameron Cavanaugh ’23, class president, agreed. “We were so blessed to have been able to come back to living and breathing VMI this year. …The pressure was on because this Ring Figure would ‘reset the precedent’ for Ring Figures to come,” he said.

The traditional presentation of the combat rings in Memorial Hall and class supper in Crozet Hall were held Thursday, Nov. 18. In an almost unanimous vote, Cavanaugh received this year’s Douglas Carter France III ’71 Memorial Award for “excellent character, selflessness, graciousness, and enthusiasm.”

Lt. Col. Tom DiTomasso, a graduate of Norwich University and 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army, addressed the class during the supper. His military decorations include the Silver Star, the Purple Heart, two Legions of Merit, three Bronze Stars, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge with Star, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with Arrowhead.

Rubenstein was surprised to get her own ring that night, being the honorary brother rat for the Class of 2023. She is often compared to Pixar’s character Mrs. Incredible, thriving under pressure. She’s had an action figure of the character on her desk for more than 10 years, and it helps keep her motivated. She said, “The Class of 2023 took time to make me part of their tight-knit family, and I am forever humbled and grateful to even be considered an honorary BR. I will treasure this memory forever!”

Cadets received their individualized rings in a ceremony in Cameron Hall Friday, Nov. 19, with remarks provided by Jamie Clark ’84, who serves as a senior policy advisor to the deputy assistant secretary of the Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration Division. Clark is the father of Jamison Clark ’23, who was tragically killed in an accident in November 2019.

After reminding the cadets to stay true to themselves, Clark was presented a Class of 2023 ring in memory of Jamison. The ring was sized specifically for Jamison’s twin sister’s hand. A seat on the floor of Cameron Hall sat empty except for a single brick—a brick that has been carried to every momentous occasion of the Class of 2023 and serves as a symbol of Jamison’s continued presence throughout their cadetship.

“Jamison is forever our brother rat, and his legacy of heart, determination, and laughter will forever live with the Class of 2023,” said Cavanaugh, one of Jamison’s roommates their rat year.

Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins ’85, superintendent, presented cadets with their rings during the ceremony, and cadets and their families then joined in Memorial Hall for a ring blessing. Loved ones were thrilled to be in attendance, as last year’s pandemic restrictions only allowed two guests per cadet.

The evening wrapped up with the Ring Figure ball held in Marshall Hall with the traditional white gowns and gloves, the processions through sabers and the giant ring, and dancing.

  • Maj. Michelle Ellwood VMI Communications & Marketing