A cadet at the West Point US Military Academy in New York has caused a stir on social media by appearing to play with her smartphone during a graduation ceremony march on Saturday.
West Point posted the video on Facebook, where it has since amassed over half a million views, thousands of shares and hundreds of comments – most of which are negative.
The video starts off fairly normally, but around the 47-second mark, the unidentified cadet in question appears on screen with her head down and something in her hands.
Facebook commenters were quick to condone her:
“obviously a few of the graduating cadets need to realize the gratitude and reverence of the uniform and that you serve a greater cause!!” said one.
“As a veteran, I want to know why are the cadets allowed to use cell phones while in formation? I am embarrassed for them and the new military standards. Obviously the uniform does not mean much to them” said another.
Facebook users seemed to be unhappy with – not just the texting cadet – but the march in general.
One commented: “Cadets on phones while marching, some cadets marching in platform heels, others sneakers, some with socks, others not. Great discipline. Is this the best and brightest future leadership of our military?”
Others, however, defended the cadet by saying that playing with a smartphone while in the middle of a march is a small detail and ‘should not downplay all the hard work that went into graduating from the academy.’
Vice President Joe Biden, delivered the commencement speech at the West Point graduation ceremony shortly afterwards, and said that the US military needs more women and gays, especially in leadership roles, as diversity will serve to strengthen the force.
He said: “having men and women together in the battlefield is an incredible asset, particularly when they’re asked to lead teams in parts of the world with fundamentally different expectations and norms”.