The town of Hailey, Idaho has canceled its June 28 event to celebrate the return of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who was released from Taliban captivity nearly five years after he was reported missing in Afghanistan.
The Idaho Statesman posted this news release from organizers saying the the event is canceled "in the interest of public safety."
Since Bergdahl's release on May 31, the town of 8,000 has been inundated with negative emails and phone calls.
"When the news of Bowe Bergdahl’s release was announced this past Saturday, the organizers joyfully declared that the event would be renamed Bowe is Back, and would become a celebration of family and friends being reunited with their son who was had been held captive in Afghanistan for five years. In the past, the event had been a celebration of support to the family through these many years.
"National media attention on Hailey and this event has led many across the nation to believe that the event is intended to be a military parade. There is broad interest in this topic, as evidenced by the approximate 100 correspondences per day received by the City of Hailey this week. The organizers and Hailey expect a significant increase in attendance to this event, by people who both want to support or protest against it." - Release from event organizers
Despite the national backlash, Northwest News Network's Jessica Robinson reports the town of Hailey is defending its support of the Bergdahl family.
“He was listed by the Department of Defense as a POW and that’s all that matters to us,” said Ralph Kramer, president of the Boise Valley POW/MIA Corporation. He served in the Air Force for two decades.
“We've been supporting Bob and Jani since the beginning as part of our mission," Kramer said. "The POW mission is to make people aware and keep them aware. Our motto is 'Never forget.'" - Northwest News Network
Hailey's mayor has asked the nation to withhold judgment of Sgt. Bergdahl until all the facts are in.