Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Military Moments: Air Force Ball {USAFA Ring Dance}

This week's Military Moments link-up is about military balls... so I am going to re-share one of my favorite posts of ALL TIME: my Air Force Academy Ring Dance post. It is the post that was the second most fun to write (second only to my wedding post), and it consistently brings readers to my blog, day in and day out, who are searching for information about the USAFA Ring Dance online.

I wrote this post in June of 2013, just a week or so after attending Ring Dance. It is my absolute favorite memory from Dan's time at the Academy, and that weekend with some of our best friends is one I will ALWAYS remember!

Ever since Dan was attending the United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School in 2009-2010, I had been dreaming about Ring Dance, the prestigious ball designated for Second Class Cadets (or juniors) at the Air Force Academy (and the other service academies have one as well). Ring Dance is the weekend before juniors become seniors, and it is where they receive their class rings. Dan designed his earlier in the year and was SO excited to receive it. I had been planning for it for YEARS, as it is definitely the most momentous occasion at the Academy, aside from graduation.

For a while, we were under the impression that Dan would be unable to attend Ring Dance, which is mandatory for all cadets. He competed on the Flying Team at the Academy, and Nationals every year falls on the same week. We thought for sure he'd be across the country competing. I was super bummed, and he felt bad... but there was nothing he could do about it. And then, by the grace of God, there happened to be five weeks in May of 2013 instead of the normal four. Somehow, some way, Nationals happened BEFORE Ring Dance was scheduled, and for the first time, Flying Team members were home for Ring Dance! I was ELATED when I found this out last summer (after a year and a half of assuming we wouldn't make it)! You can only imagine...

If you want to know a little more about the Ring Dance tradition, read on (from Wikipedia):
The American college tradition of the class ring began with the class of 1835 at the U.S. Military Academy. From there, it spread to the U.S. Naval Academy in the class of 1869. The Air Force Academy continued the tradition, beginning with the first class, 1959, and so is the only service academy to have had class rings for every class since its founding. The Air Force ring is distinctive for being white gold instead of the yellow gold used at the other academies. Each class designs its own class crest; the only requirements being that each crest include all the elements on the Class of 1959's crest: the class number, the class year, the Polaris star, and the eagle. One side of the ring bears the academy crest, while the other side bears the class crest; the center bezel bears the words United States Air Force Academy. Cadets choose their own stones for the center of the ring. The rings are received at the Ring Dance at the beginning of the Graduation Week festivities for the class ahead of the ring recipients. The rings traditionally are placed in glasses of champagne by the cadet’s date and are caught in the teeth following a toast. The cadet then passes the ring to the date during a kiss, and the date slips the ring onto the cadet’s finger. During the cadet's first class (senior) year, the ring is worn with the class crest facing the wearer; following graduation, the ring is turned so that the class crest faces out. The rings of all the academies were originally designed to be worn on the left hand, so that the wearer reads the name of the academy on the bezel while a cadet or midshipman and others can read it after graduation, but the rings are now worn on either hand (usually the right). The Academy's Association of Graduates (AOG) accepts rings of deceased graduates, which are melted down to form an ingot of white gold from which a portion of all future rings are made. Both the academy's Association of Graduates and the Academy Library maintain displays of class rings.

I know what you've all been waiting for... pictures of the wonderful event! Well, I took plenty. Dan and I took pictures on the terrazzo before the dinner, and it was BEAUTIFUL outside (although a little {A LOT} windy, as evidenced by my hair). We then went inside for the formal dinner, which was delicious. We went through the ring christening, and then Dan posed with several friends for pictures of their hands with their brand new, sparkly BLING! We spent the rest of the evening at the dance, and then we headed to Breckenridge for a weekend with friends. The house we rented was AMAZING, and the entire weekend was SPECTACULAR!

Pictures from the Terrazzo:

in Dan's truck before we got to USAFA
it was so windy in front of the chapel!

with Lindsey and her date
fancy running into Lizzie on the T-zo... that wasn't planned AT ALL (haha, just kidding!)
with Lizzie and Suzy
we had to get pictures with all of the aircraft...
with a friend from the USAFA Girlfriend group!
one of my favorite photos from the night; I just love the Cadet Chapel in the background!
with Suzy and her boyfriend
with Anni 
my fiancé sure makes that Mess Dress look good!
with Megan and Ryan
Pictures From Dinner:

2014 Class Crest -- SO amazing! I loved it!
one heck of a cake! 
Dan with one of his AMTs
some of Dan's friends/squadron-mates
fun picture before dinner
thanks to WebGuy for the super serious pictures here during the National Anthem
thanks to WebGuy for the super serious pictures here during the National Anthem
cool 2014 flasks! we also got shot glasses :)
thanks to WebGuy for this photo!
thanks to WebGuy for this photo too! :)
probably my most favorite picture of us from the entire weekend
Pictures From the Ring Christening: 

Dan's ring is inside this box!
I snuck a peek when he wasn't looking! 
Isn't it just GORGEOUS?! The stone is Alexandrite, and it looks different colors in different lights. So far, we have seen it look light blue, mint green (usually how it looks in sunlight), lavender (usually in inside light), and yellow -- I call it his mood ring! :) 
Before the Christening of the Ring, we posed for a picture of me holding the box
...and then we got our glasses of champagne ready!
Dan's not looking because he wasn't allowed to see it until I slipped it onto his finger
I put the ring in his glass of champagne, and here he is drinking all of the champagne so he can get the ring into his mouth
...and he has it in his mouth! 
This is the fun part of it all! He kissed me with the ring in his mouth and transferred it to mine! 
...and then I slipped it onto his finger! Looking good, Cadet Lovemuffin! ;) 
now we both have our big rings! YAY for bling! :)
Pictures From After Dinner:

showing off their new, well-deserved rings! (this is Dan with one of his freshman roommates, Tim)
this was supposed to be a picture of all of the cadets who were together at the USAFA Prep School in 2009-2010... obviously not everyone made it into the photo
the juniors of Cadet Squadron 39, the Cool Campus Radicals, with their brand spakin' new class rings!
Dan with his friend Jarod -- looking so happy to have their rings!
the juniors of the Flying Team with their rings
the juniors of the USAFA Flying Team with their rings
the juniors of the USAFA Flying Team with their rings
the juniors of the USAFA Flying Team with their rings
the juniors of the USAFA Flying Team with their rings
the juniors of the USAFA Flying Team with their rings
Pictures From the Dance:

Dan's ring is beautiful!
Dan and his best friend Aaron. They were roommates at the Prep School.
Dan and Aaron's rings... both shades of purple!
Me with two of my favorite guys
Dan with a couple friends from his freshman squadron, Sarah and Davis
Dan with some Flying Team friends
These four (Dan, Kaylon, Lindsey, and Aaron) were all in the same squadron at the USAFA Prep School and have been good friends ever since!
We all had so much fun!
the ladies
Dan pulled me aside outside of the Arnold Hall ballroom and started telling me how much he appreciated my support throughout his time at the Academy and how glad he was to have me there by his side... and then he gave me a miniature version of his class ring on a chain as a necklace. 
Pictures From the Weekend:

Dan and Aaron went a little bit crazy with some random monkeys in a gas station while wearing their party sleeves... oh dear
Lindsey and I had a lot of fun around the house in Breckenridge
Some of the crew in the kitchen
those three are too much to handle sometimes...
the GORGEOUS house we rented in Breckenridge, Colorado for the weekend following Ring Dance
the living room and into the kitchen
amazing living room
part of the basement
another side of the basement
the master bedroom, where Dan and I stayed
AMAZING shower in the master bedroom... I took way too many showers just because it was so nice
jacuzzi tub!
backyard with the fire pit and hot tub... both were very well used that weekend!
we had a very nice view of the mountains from the house
Aaron and I did the limbo out on the town...
almost there!
Yay! We made it!
Lindsey and I pretended to ski in front of this statue
naturally, the guys thought we were geniuses and wanted to pose as well (or maybe some random passersby asked if they could get all four of us in a picture... something like that)
super cool matching sunglasses... just wait
hahaha! photobombed by Aaron
we went shopping in such a beautiful area
we all want to go back and eat on this boat later in the summer when they are open!
nice scenery behind us :)
this is one of my favorites from the weekend! 
all four of us! :)
Aaron on top, Dan on the right, and Lindsey underneath! They all look so cool! 
Aaron with his precious Duchess
trying to get the cork out!
Vesper martinis! 
lemon meringue shots :)
dance party!!! 
sitting on top of Duchess for a last minute picture in front of the house
...and of course we had to take a silly one too! ;)

Overall, Ring Dance Weekend is one that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. It was SUCH a special experience, and I am so happy that I was able to join Dan for it.

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