Target Field is a great place to go even on a normal day, but Sunday July 12, 2015, was Armed Forces Appreciation Day. The Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota National Guard hosted the Twin’s 12th annual Armed Forces Appreciation Day to honor veterans and active service members from all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. This year commemorates the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the 40th Anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War and the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.
Picture at Target Field’s main ticket entrance are Trent Dilks, DAV Department Service Officer and Bob Heinz, Chapter 2 member. They were busy passing out DAV MN brochures, providing information about the DAV of MN, and discussing the assistance provided by the department service officer in helping file claims for veterans. Several veterans were invited to attend a future Chapter 2 meeting as well as a few disabled veteran memberships were interested in more information on how to enroll in the DAV. Most important was explaining the DAV’s dedication to a single purpose of empowering veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity.
John Hines, WCCO AM, was the on-field emcee. The pre-game ceremony was organized in a team effort between the Twins staff and the Minnesota National Guard. The field went silent during the unfurling of a giant flag by Twins and Sport service employees who have a military affiliation. Displayed on the stadium’s large screens were pictures honoring the service men and women from across Twins Territory who made the ultimate sacrifice to their country in the past year.
A selection of music was performed by the Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Red Bull Infantry Division Rock Combo Band. A touching moment was when the entire crowd stood up with hand over heart and joined in to sing “I’m Proud to be an American.”
Pictured above are Bob Erickson PDC, Greg Remus State Commander and David Valtinson PDC displaying the DAV of Minnesota Banner during the opening ceremony. Greg, representing the DAV of MN, was summoned to the field and was greeted by outfielder Danny Santano #39 as they stood side-by-side during the National Anthem. The 34th Combat Aviation Brigade was honored for their return from a 10-month deployment. A special color guard represented the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. Raising of the American Flag was performed by Vince Parker, a World War II veteran. Children of military families raised the Twins Territory Flag. WWII veterans and Vietnam Veterans were on the field from all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and were recognized for their brave service accomplishments.
The pregame event concluded by a thundering flyover of 11 WWII-era aircraft. A ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.
During this 2015 season the MN TWINS organization have been very generous in providing tickets to the MN Disabled American Veterans as a part of the DAV Outreach program, explained Stephen Whitehead, DAV MN Executive Director. “These tickets were given to the patients of the VA medical centers, the MN Veterans Homes, volunteer drivers, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon communities, disabled veterans Statewide, and homeless/needy veterans being served by the MAC-V organization. The TWINS donation of over 250 tickets has clearly provided a better quality of life for the veterans we serve and we thank them for their assistance in the DAV purpose and mission. The TWINS organization has been an active sponsor of our Old Glory Run, and our Annual Golf Classic over past years, and also provided sponsorship of the DAV / MN TWINS Coat Drive for Homeless Veterans over the winter holiday season. We thanks this fine organization… GO TWINS!” The final score was Twins 7 and Tigers 1.