Hailey, Idaho — the city that held annual "Bring Bowe Back" events while U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was held captive by the Taliban for five years — is now canceling its celebration to mark Bergdahl's return home.
"Hailey canceled plans for a celebration later this month citing security concerns after the town was inundated with negative e-mails and angry phone calls." (Via KIVI)
"Traitor" and "deserter" are words that have been thrown around since the Obama administration negotiated Bergdahl's release by swapping for five Taliban extremists held at Guantanamo Bay. Six U.S. soldiers reportedly died while searching for the missing Army sergeant.
"A lot of the messages talked about remembering the soldiers they said died looking for Bergdahl while the rest of Hailey will have a parade." (Via KBOI)
The Idaho Statesman spoke to a member of Hailey's chamber of commerce who said residents were caught off guard by the overwhelmingly negative responses. "They say we're kind of a disgrace, or what a shame it is to have a celebration for a traitor. ... I don't think anybody anticipated this much blowback."
Since Bergdahl's release, those who served with him haven't held back in saying exactly how they feel about their former comrade.
Justin Gerleve: "I believe that he totally deserted not only his fellow soldiers but his leadership."
Evan Buetow: "Bergdahl's not a hero. He isn't an example. He did not serve with honor." (Via CNN)
But before Bergdahl's homecoming event was canceled, Idaho Governor Butch Otter weighed in on the controversy saying, "I'm not going to speculate on anything beyond what I know - and what I know is that after almost five years, a young man from Idaho no longer is in enemy hands." (Via U.S. Navy)
NBC reports a spokeswoman for the Bergdahl family said that maybe a large event is too much, too soon. She added, "We can celebrate privately, we can celebrate with friends and family — our celebration doesn't need to be denied."