One of the oldest and most prestigious American ceremonial weapons is the cadet sword issued by the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.
Guardians of Tradition
Officer Cadets at West Point are the only people in the U.S. Army who continue to wear a sword and sash. As such, West Point cadets are referred to as "Guardians of Tradition" by the U.S. Army. The swords at West Point are issued only to seniors or upper classmen, also known as "First Class Cadets." The swords are used for official military ceremonies at West Point such as parades, formations, drills and graduations. Senior cadets also carry the swords while on guard duty.
Cadet swords have been used at West Point since the prestigious military academy was founded in 1802 – making them one of the oldest ceremonial weapons of the U.S. military. No cadet swords were used in America prior to the founding of the West Point Military Academy. There have been several versions of the cadet sword used over the years. The most recent model of cadet sword is known as the "Model 1922." It has a cruciform hilt of gilt brass and silver colored grips. Each sword is engraved with "U.S.M.A," which stands for "United States Military Academy." Other features of the sword include nickel plated scabbards and an emblem of the helmet worn by Athena, the Greek God of War.
New 2011 Model Sword
A new model of cadet sword is expected to be issued by West Point in autumn 2011. It will be the military academy’s first new cadet sword since 1922. The new sword will be stronger than previous versions and contain the words "Duty, Honor and Country" engraved across Athena’s helmet. West Point will hold a ceremony to introduce the new sword to its senior cadets. The new sword is manufactured by WKC Stahl und Metallwarenfabrik, a company based in Solingen, Germany.
The cadet sword is copyrighted by the West Point school. It is illegal to reproduce the swords without the military academy’s consent or give the swords to civilians. West Point has clear rules that specify the cadet swords must be returned by students at the end of their senior year. However, any alumnus of West Point who successfully graduated can purchase a new cadet sword from the military academy’s bookstore.