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West Point cadets in fist-raising photo complete mandatory instruction

The West Point seniors whose fist-raising photo thrust them into the national spotlight have completed the mandatory instruction required to graduate, a spokesman told Army Times on Monday.

The photo, shared widely on social media, was interpreted by some to be a political statement and a potential violation of Defense Department rules concerning political activities while in uniform. An official U.S. Military Academy inquiry dismissed that theory, however, and the investigator determined the women were simply displaying pride in the lead-up to their May 21 graduation.

Even so, Aacademy officials considered the photo "inappropriate," and the women were ordered to complete additional "instruction" if they wanted to graduate.  

"The training occurred over the weekend," said Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker, West Point's director of public affairs, in a statement. "It was a productive session that focused on how perceptions can impact the cadets' role in the profession of arms."

The image was just one of nine the 16 cadets took on April 26 during an "Old Corps" photo shoot, a tradition where seniors strike serious poses reminiscent of early 19th Century cadets who attended the U.S. Military Academy.

Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, in a letter to his students, issued a warning for other cadets.

"As members of the Profession of Arms, we are held to a higher standard, where our actions are constantly observed and scrutinized in the public domain," he wrote. "We all must understand that a symbol or gesture that one group of people may find harmless may offend others."

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