Freed soldier's hometown cancels rally amid anger over swap
Thursday, June 05, 2014 - 01:39
June 5 - The political uproar over the release of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity intensifies as his hometown cancels plans for a rally celebrating his return. Mana Rabiee reports.
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In Bowe Bergdahl's hometown of Hailey, Idaho, the yellow ribbons are still posted to the trees.
But some of the initial euphoria over his release on Saturday from nearly five years of Taliban captivity has faded.
The rally the town planned for him on June 28? That's been canceled.
The town says it just can't handle the expected crowds, what with all the media attention.
SOUNDBITE: HAILEY CITY ADMINISTRATOR HEATHER DAWSON SAYING:
"We don't think we have time to put in place an event of that size between now and June 28th."
But the decision also comes after hundreds of angry emails flooded City Hall.
Each saying they didn't want Hailey to celebrate its native son as a hero.
Some of the critical emails even called Bergdahl's father a Muslim. Many talked about boycotting the town.
All this, amid allegations that Bergdahl abandoned his post before his capture.
And calls that he should be treated as a deserter.
Allegations that sadden his Hailey supporters who were planning the rally.
SOUNDBITE: FRIEND AND RALLY ORGANIZER DAYLE OHLAU SAYING:
"It's just so sad that others across the country have dictated that we can't have this celebration because it's not safe. I want him to be safe, I want him to feel love and celebration which is what this community couldn't wait to show him. Maybe we can do our own private celebration, just not now."
The Pentagon says Bergdahl's condition is improving during treatment at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.
He still hasn't spoken with his family, it said.
And U.S. officials indicate there's little desire to discipline the 28-year-old, if indeed he did desert his post, given what he's already been through.
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