No hero’s welcome for Bergdahl

Published 9:49 am Thursday, June 5, 2014

HAILEY, Idaho — There will be no hero’s welcome for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in his hometown, no fanfare of parades, music or picnics in the park.

A planned celebration for the end of June marking his return after five years of Taliban captivity in Afghanistan has been scrapped, largely due to security concerns as his release has touched off a nationwide debate. Was he an American prisoner of war who should be welcomed home after years in the enemy’s hands or a deserter who abandoned his unit who should be punished accordingly?

The town of 8,000 has been swamped with hate mail and angry calls, labeling the 28-year-old Bergdahl un-American and a traitor. Given the prospect of large crowds on both sides of the debate, organizers abruptly canceled their welcome home celebration.