USMA Coat of Arms
An official coat of arms for the United States Military Academy was adopted on October 13, 1898. Years later, Captain George Chandler of the War Department brought it to the attention of Superintendent, Major General Fred Winchester Sladen that the eagle and helmet faced to the heraldic sinister, or left, side. In heraldry, the only viewpoint of historical relevance is that of the bearer, to whose right (dexter) the eagle and helmet should face. On July 2, 1923 the Adjutant General of the Army approved a slight revision, which turned the helmet and eagle’s head to the position that we see today.
Shield: The shield is that bearing the arms of the United States.
Crest: The crest comprises an eagle with wings, displayed and a scroll bearing the motto, “Duty, Honor, Country,” with the words, “West Point, 1802, USMA.”
Motto: “Duty, Honor, Country”
The emblem consists of the helmet of Pallas Athena, who has been used for many centuries as a symbol of Wisdom and Learning. Pallas Athena was a militant Goddess, fully armed; and since Homer, her wisdom has been associated especially with war and the arts of war. This helmet is over the Greek sword, the universal symbol of war, in its general sense. The two together typify the military and education functions of the Academy. This device, as a coat of arms has been associated with the Academy for many years, and is familiar to its graduates for more than a century. The motto of “Duty, Honor, Country” concisely expresses the character of this institution.
As you walk around the academic area you cannot help but notice the coat of arms carved onto many of the older buildings, as well as the newest academic building, Jefferson Hall, which was completed in 2008.
Contents contributed by Alicia Mauldin Ware, Archives Curator