Sen. Martha McSally. Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sarah Villegas/U.S. Navy

Martha McSally actively served 22 years in the Air Force, rising to the rank of colonel before she retired in 2010.

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Ah, service academy graduation! That wonderful springtime rite in which plebes become plebes no more, firsties drunkenly don cadet dress uniforms for the last time, and some old dignitary gives them a brief, rousing pep talk about the sacred duties they're about to undertake. Some grads get a secretary of defense or a vice president; some get the big cheese himself, the president of the United States, to tell them what a great thing they've done with their four years, and how much the uniformed forces will appreciate their commissioned service.

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DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen

In late May, 16 female cadets in their fourth year at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point gathered in their grey dress uniforms, complete with crossed sabres, for an “old corps” photo — a tradition among those graduating. In a show of pride and solidarity, these women raised their fists and a photo was snapped. The problem? These 16 women are black, and as the photo went viral, a narrative developed that these women had intended to align themselves with the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

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