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Bergdahl’s Hometown Cancels Celebration

June 4, 2014 by staff 

Bergdahl’s Hometown Cancels Celebration, The hometown of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, feeling a backlash over allegations that he was a deserter, has canceled a rally planned for later this month celebrating his release from five years of Taliban captivity, officials said on Wednesday.

Heather Dawson, the city administrator of Hailey, Idaho, told Reuters that town officials called off the June 28 event at the request of organizers because the town “will be unable to safely manage the number of people expected.”

The decision came as the community came under mounting pressure to cancel the rally in the face of rising anger, expressed in emails and phone calls directed at city officials and businesses, over claims by Bergdahl’s onetime Army comrades that he had deliberately abandoned his post in Afghanistan.

Stefanie O’Neill, an organizer of the welcome-home rally originally set for June 28, had insisted as late as Tuesday that the celebration would go on as planned. But on Wednesday, she and her mother, Debbie, a co-organizer of the event, paid a visit to the Army sergeant’s parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl, to ask whether they wanted the celebration to proceed as planned.

A short time later came the city’s announcement that the event was being canceled.

“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,” the town said in a statement. “There is broad interest in this topic, as evidenced by the approximate 100 correspondences per day received by the city of Hailey this week.”

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