Wisconsin Eagle Scout Johnny Weber and his family are working to raise awareness in Congress of the plight of Blaine County soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by Taliban militants almost three years ago in Afghanistan.
Fifteen-year-old Weber, was adopted three and a half years ago by Brenda and Rick Weber of Wasau, Wisc., from an orphanage in central Russia.
Brenda Weber said her adopted son initiated a petition to help bring awareness for the safe release of Bergdahl, after meeting Sen. John McCain on a trip to Washington, D.C.
"The senator said he knew all about Bowe," Brenda Weber said.
The Weber family has gathered more than 6,000 signatures from people in 19 states on the petition, which they hope to complete with 30,000 signatures by March 30, before presenting it to Congress.
"Our intention is that congressmen from Idaho and Wisconsin will stand together on the floor of the Congress building in Washington, D.C., and have the petition presented and recorded to draw attention to Bowe," said Brenda Weber.
She said her son came up with the petition while preparing for his Eagle Scout court of honor ceremony at the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Wausau last summer.
"He knows a little bit about what living without freedom is about because he lived for six of his first 12 years in an orphanage 800 miles east of Moscow near the Siberian border," she said.
Webber said her son is a high school honor student who dreamed that he offered a salute to Bowe on American soil, and was saluted back, indicating that the soldier had been released.
"He feels that God placed this challenge in his heart to do something about it," she said.
The Bergdahl family responded positively to the petition on Tuesday, via a prepared statement sent by Col. Tim Marsano.
"The Bergdahls are excited about this grassroots effort to energize public awareness on behalf of their son, Bowe," Marsano wrote. "They would like Idahoans to consider adding their signatures to the petition the Weber family has generated as a way of ensuring Bowe is not forgotten.
"While the Bergdahls appreciate the shows of support they see every day in the Wood River Valley and know the military and Idaho congressional delegation are doing all they can to bring Bowe home, they take comfort from additional shows of support like this one."
For more information and to download the petition, go to www.dosalute.net.
Tony Evans: firstname.lastname@example.org