Friday, November 22, 2013

Card campaign launched for Bowe Bergdahl

1 million supporters sought


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

Supporters of Bowe Bergdahl have been writing messages of support in notebooks at Zaney’s coffeehouse in Hailey. Photo by Roland Lane

    A local campaign to draw attention to the plight of captured Blaine County soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is gathering momentum around the world.
    There has been no news of the soldier’s circumstances in the world media since last summer, when Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Qatar for negotiations with Bergdahl’s Taliban captors on the fourth anniversary of the soldier’s capture.
    Hailey residents Debbie and Stefanie O’Neill launched a social-media campaign last week to send 1 million Christmas cards to Bergdahl, by way of the White House in Washington, D.C.
    “This project has been designed to send a message to the White House, Congress, and Senate that we want Bowe Bergdahl home where he belongs,” said Stefanie O’Neill in a prepared statement.
    “In the past, cards sent to Bowe through various levels of government have been ‘returned to sender.’ We are hoping that the Obama administration will have the good sense to not only hear our message but to facilitate a way to get these cards to Bowe through the International Red Cross or other agencies,” she said.
    “Since the Red Cross was able to get a letter from his captors to his parents, we hope that they could somehow get the cards to Bowe,” Debbie O’Neill said in an interview. She said on Thursday that 3,960 “friends” of the “One Million Cards for Bowe” Facebook page have committed to sending cards to Bergdahl.
    “They include people from England, Australia and France, from around the world. Some are sending one each day, from now until Christmas. One hundred cards were sent just now (Thursday morning) from Hope, Arkansas,” she said.
    Debbie O’Neill said she estimates that 100,000 cards could be on their way to the White House by Thanksgiving. She said the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office, as well as numerous veterans and motorcycle groups, have also pledged support for the campaign.
    Hailey resident and Powerhouse Studio co-owner Tanya Olson organized a card-writing effort among Hailey Elementary School and Carey High School students. About 500 cards will be written and sent to the O’Neills to deliver to the White House from Hailey Elementary School alone, said Debbie O’Neill.
    The current Miss Idaho, Sarah Down, also joined the Christmas card writing campaign.
    “We are blessed to have this talented, beautiful, intelligent and compassionate young woman on board with us, representing Bowe’s home state of Idaho, in this massive endeavor,” Stefanie O’Neill said.
    “America should always take care of their own, especially those who put their lives on the line for our freedom,” Down said in a prepared statement sent by the O’Neills.
    “I know that every single letter will be a reminder to the White House of the importance of bringing Bowe home. He fought for us, and now it’s time that we fight for him,” Down said.
    Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan by enemy forces in June 2009.
    For more information on this event, contact Debbie O’Neill at (208) 450-9687 or Stefanie O’Neill at (208) 721-8884, or visit the Facebook page by searching “One Million Cards for Bowe” or by emailing steffyinidaho@aol.com.
Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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