The town of Hailey, Idaho is rejoicing this morning with good reason. One of their own is returning home!
After nearly five years as a Taliban prisoner in Afghanistan, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, 28 years of age, has been freed in exchange for five Guantanamo Bay detainees who will now be transferred to Qatar, the Middle Eastern country that mediated the exchange. Sergeant Bergdahl, a resident of Hailey, Idaho and a member of the parachute infantry regiment of the Army's 25th Infantry Division, was captured in Afghanistan in June, 2009.
Think about that a minute. When taken prisoner, Sgt. Bergdahl was just 23 years old. During the ensuing five years, when his civilian counterparts were graduating college, starting careers, traveling, perhaps marrying or entering serious relationships, young Bowe, a captive of the ruthless Taliban, was far away from home and tragically distanced from the typical American life. And now, despite his unimaginable sacrifice and the fact that he was the only American soldier held captive in Afghanistan, Sergeant Bergdahl will return home, and comparatively few Americans even know about it.
These days, what passes for news is questionable. The recent wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West made headlines (whippee!). The November, 2013 death of “Fast and Furious” star, Paul Walker, is still making news. AOL headlines for June 1st, 2014 included the announcements of the cancellation of the Arsenio Hall show after one season and the pregnancy of Princess Charlene of Monaco (who?). Not a word about Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. In fact, if it hadn't been for an acquaintance's facebook posting, I would not have known about Bowe Bergdahl at all (thank you, Dale).
What does that say about our society's priorities? Of course, wedding dresses and royal babies are far more pleasant topics than the spoils of war, and the American public is, perhaps, understandably weary (and wary) of round-the-clock news coverage, but I believe the homecoming of an American soldier should be splashed across the newspapers and celebrated in the media. Going forward, talking heads will likely debate the advisability of negotiating with terrorists for the release of five senior Taliban leaders and thus reduce Sergeant Bergdahl's release to political fall-out, but until then let's acknowledge Sergeant Bergdahl's service and sacrifice and properly welcome him home.
The town of Hailey, Idaho is rightfully joyous. One of their own, one of America's own, is coming home. Spread the word: Bowe is back!