Tales About Target Stores and Other Myths

During the past month I received two interesting emails. I want to give them to you in their entirety so you can experience the same emotions I felt as I read them for the first time.

The Moving Wall, Photo: Vietnam Veterans of America

Email One:

Dick Forrey of the Vietnam Veterans Association wrote.

“Recently we asked the local TARGET store to be a proud sponsor of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall during our spring recognition event. We received the following reply from the local TARGET management: ‘Veterans do not meet our area of giving. We only donate to the arts, social action groups, gay & lesbian causes, and education.’”

So I’m thinking, if the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and veterans in general do not meet their donation criteria, then something is really wrong at this TARGET store. We were not asking for thousands of dollars, not even hundreds, just a small sponsorship for a memorial remembrance.

As a follow-up, I E-mailed the TARGET U.S. corporate headquarters and their response was the same. That’s their national policy.

Then I looked into the company further. They will not allow the Marines to collect for ‘Toys for Tots’ at any of their stores. And during the recent Iraq deployment, they would not allow families of employees who were called up for active duty to continue their insurance coverage while they were on military service. Then as I dig further, TARGET is a French-owned corporation.

Now, I’m thinking again. If TARGET cannot support American Veterans, then why should my family and I support their stores by spending our hard earned American dollars and to have their profits sent to France. Without the American Vets, where would France be today?”

Email Two:

The following verse is from the Koran, (the Islamic Bible)

Koran (9:11) – For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair still more rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah; and there was peace.

(Note the verse number!) Hmmmmmmm?! God Bless you all Amen!

Now, I’ve got to tell you – when I received the first email I was steaming. I was ready to boycott Target until the day I died. I wanted to share my passion with the world.

My regular readers know, however, that I do my homework, especially when I tackle a controversial subject. I try to put in writing the best information available from every source I can tap.

Despite my upset at Target (and France), I commenced an in-depth search for one Dick Forrey and the truth about this story. Here is what I found.

Dick Forrey is a member of and represents the Howard County, Indiana, branch of a Vietnam Veterans organization. In March, 2002, he approached an employee at the Target store in his area asking for monetary help to bring a mobile half-scale replica of the Washington D.C Vietnam Memorial – the “Traveling Wall” – to his area.

According to Daniel Cleland, Customer Service Team Leader for Target, Target is dedicated to community service, but like most companies, has policies and procedures that must be followed. Cleland told BreakTheChain.org that Mr. Forrey’s frustrations were caused by miscommunication and Forrey’s failure to observe established Target guidelines.

Here are some of the specific bits of information I dug up (courtesy of: BreakTheChain.org and several other sources):

  • Email claim: Target won’t support veterans, but will give to “gay & lesbian causes.”
    Fact: Most versions of this email floating around the Internet misquote Target’s “approved” causes as including “gay & lesbian causes.” This was not part of Forrey’s original letter, and it is not part of Target’s giving policy.
  • Email claim: Target will not allow the Marines to collect for “Toys for Tots”
    Fact: According to Target: “Target greatly respects the good work of the Toys for Tots program and all the volunteers who make this program a success every year. Target has a longstanding policy of no-solicitation by any group or organization at our stores. This policy includes the use of our store locations as collection or drop off sites for any type of activity. The only organization that we currently allow to solicit at our stores during the holiday season is the Salvation Army, due to our longstanding relationship with this organization.”
  • Email claim: Target “would not allow families of employees who were called up for active duty to continue their insurance coverage while they were on military service.”
    Fact: According to Target, “Target Corporation provides benefits for activated reservists, including pay differential, that surpass the benefits required by law. Target team members who are activated for military service and were participating in optional dependent coverage at the time of their deployment are eligible to continue these benefits if they choose. Target Corporation also allows any Target team member to continue benefits as provided by the 1986 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).”
  • Email claim: “Target is French owned.”
    Fact: Simply untrue. Target Corporation is a publicly held U.S. company trading as TGT on the New York Stock Exchange. Apparently, this was added by somebody to capitalize on anti-French sentiment following the invasion of Iraq. According to Target: Target is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since its was founded by George Dayton in 1902 as The Dayton Company.

Perhaps the final irony is that the real Dick Forrey wrote a letter of apology to Target for his part in what has become a difficult nut to crack by a completely innocent American firm.

Now let’s look at the second email.

Unlike email  one, shivers went down my spine when I read this one. My research, of course was relatively simple. All I had to do was look up the passage in the Qur’an (note that “Koran” is an unnecessary Westernization of the word).

Similarly to our own Bible, how one reads and understands the Qur’an depends in significant part on which version or translation one consults. In this case, however, the actual verse identified as 9:11 reads something like this: “But if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, they are your brethren in faith; and we make the communications clear for a people who know.”

I’m going to leave it up to you to decide whether or not this can be interpreted to mean what I received by email.

Let’s go one step further – I would appreciate an explanation from anybody for what this passage actually means, without reference to Iraq or anything else. Simply: What does it mean?

So here you have it: On one hand is an email that seriously defames one of America’s “great commercial institutions,” without – as it turns out – any justification at all. And people have been circulating this myth around the Internet for three years now, with growing momentum. On the other hand, you have an attempt to justify through phony religious prophecy a military action taken by the United States in its own defense, as many of us believe. Again, noble as it sounds, the story is pure fiction.

Bad fiction – good fiction, but fiction.

Back in 1969 the Eagle landed on the Moon for real. Some called it fiction, but it was history-making Fact with a capital “F.” For this one let’s land the Eagle on the firm soil of reality, and regain a bit of sanity.

Robert G. Williscroft is DefenseWatch Navy Editor

Submariner, diver, scientist, author & adventurer. 22 mos underwater, a yr in the equatorial Pacific, 3 yrs in the Arctic, and a yr at the South Pole. BS Marine Physics & Meteorology, PhD in Engineering. Authors non-fiction, Cold War thrillers, and hard science fiction. Lives in Centennial, CO.

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