Those of us old enough to remember those patriots who gave of their time and effort to entertain and support our troops during World War II can easily name them. These were the most remembered: Bob Hope, John Wayne, Carol Landis, and Jack Benny to name just a very few. But we have some in this generation who have remembered the troops and worked hard for them as well.
It is of one of these Patriots in particular that I write of today. He is another member of the acting profession, but not enough is known about his giving and sacrifices to our troops and others who have been effected by the on-going war in the middle east. His name is Gary Sinise
Gary was born on March 17th 1955 in Blue Island, Illinois. His family eventually moved to Highland Park and that is where he attended school.
Later, Gary and several of his friends started the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in a church basement in Chicago. The group gained stature and is now performing in an $8,000,000 theater. The acting bug was truly intrenched in him,.
Gary developed a fine career in acting and has earned many awards for doing so. Among them was his Emmy Award for his mini-series portrayal of George Wallace. He earned that award on the very night that Wallace died. We remember his fine performances in Apollo 13 and as the memorable Lieutenant Dan in the Forrest Gump film.
But is not of these successes that I wish to write. It is his contribution to our troops in the field and other worthy patriotic causes. It has been said that his superb performance in the Forrest Gump film caused in Gary a profound awareness of the never-ending sacrifice of the wounded warrior in a very positive way and was stated similarly by Major General Weaver of the U.S. Marine Corp.
After September 11th, Gary began supporting active duty Military and wounded veterans. He champions them as well as supporting them. Observing the way our troops were caring for Iraqi children and seeing how those same children climbed all over the troops hugging them as well as kissing them and telling then that they loved them in the small amount of English they could sum up, he was inspired to send millions of dollars worth of clothes and supplies to Iraqi children.
Something in his Lieutenant Dan role caused him to feel a close affinity to the wounded. He started his Lieutenant Dan Band and entertains the troops as often as possible both in and out of War Zones.
During one of his performances at the Great Lakes Naval Base, he took the microphone during the break and spoke about his commitment to them, to our country, and how much he appreciated their willingness to protect and fight for our freedoms. Witnesses to that statement could see and feel the sincere love and admiration Gary has for our fighting men, women, and our country.
At one point he visited the men and women in Iraq. It was a very hot day and he and his group stopped at a checkpoint. Gary started talking to a soldier out the window and was soon surrounded by at least fifty other GI’s. He took the time to meet with every one of them. They were just about to leave when a young soldier who was just relieved from duty ran up to the vehicle not wanting to miss meeting Gary. He was greeted as though”he was the first man in line”.
Later, told by a member of his accompanying group that he could see that each man and woman were made to feel very special by his treatment, he responded slowly and with a voice that resembled a heavy heart,
“It’s because we don’t know what the next hour holds for them. As tired as I might get sometimes, and I do, it is nothing compared to what they go through day-after-day with the price they are so readily willing to pay.”
The mainstream media does not recognize much about his efforts, but the President did. For Gary’s efforts and heartfelt caring for our troops, President Bush awarded The Presidential Citizens Medal, the second highest civilian honor awarded to citizens for exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation.
Gary is a Great American who many know nothing about except for his fine acting. I have barely scratched the surface of his efforts, but, if you ever have the opportunity and honor to meet him, be sure to shake his hand and “thank him for his service”.