MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins say they'll proceed with plans to distribute G.I. Joe action figures in honor of troops serving in combat, despite criticisms from peace groups who say the giveaway is promoting the war.
As part of the team's second annual Armed Services Appreciation Day, the Twins plan to give the G.I. Joe figures to 5,000 children at Monday night's game against the Kansas City Royals.
"It really is intended to pay tribute to the soldiers, those
infantry people who are serving the country here and abroad," said
Patrick Klinger, vice president of marketing. "We wanted to pay
tribute to the real G.I. Joes and G.I. Janes serving the country."
Some peace groups demanded that the team abandon the giveaway plan, but Klinger said the team also received hundreds of calls of support.
Toymaker Hasbro Inc. removed the gun from the action figure, but hand grenades are still visible. The Twins will provide packs of baseball cards for children whose parents don't want them to have a G.I. Joe, Klinger said.
John Varone, a Vietnam veteran and president of the Twin Cities chapter of Veterans for Peace, criticized the promotion. "The last place we need to promote war is at our national pastime," he said.
The Twins crafted a tribute to the service men and women that
appears on the back of the action figure package, noting the
contributions of thousands of Minnesotans supporting the nation as
active or reserve members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and
National Guard. The Twins note that Guard members also serve during natural disasters and other emergencies.
"The Minnesota Twins salute these courageous men and women, past and present, who put their lives on the line to defend our
country and assist us in times of need," the tribute reads.
Monday's game will be half price for current and former military personnel and their families. Before the first pitch, Gov. Tim
Pawlenty will receive a flag being returned from battle by Company
C, 142nd Engineer Battalion of the Minnesota Army Guard based at
"We are absolutely going forward with the promotion," Klinger added.