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Gary Sinise Is One Grateful American

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Author, Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service, Thomas Nelson 2019

Has appeared in numerous award-winning movies, such as Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, The Green Mile, Truman, etc.

Winner of an Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award

Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Oscar nominated

Founder, Gary Sinise Foundation, which serves and honors America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need

Bass player and leader of Lt. Dan Band, which has entertained more than 500,000 troops worldwide

Co-founder, Steppenwolf Theater of Chicago

Recipient of Spirit of Hope Award by Department of Defense

Named Honorary Chief Petty Officer by the USN

Pinned as an honorary Marine

Recipient of Sylvanus Thayer Award, West Point, an award given to civilians whose “character, service, and achievements reflect the ideals prized by the US Military Academy”

Recipient of Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor awarded to citizens for “exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation”

Wife: actress Moira Harris

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Gary grew up in the suburbs of Chicago in the 1960s and 70s. He was a terrible student in school but played some sports and started a rock band as an escape.  The high school drama teacher invited Gary to audition for the school play, West Side Story, because he looked like a “gang member”.  This changed everything for him.  (Gary is still in touch with this teacher and visits her whenever he can.)

After a few years, Gary and his friends put together a groundbreaking new theater company in the basement of a church called the Steppenwolf Theater.  This theater company also launched the careers of John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Laurie Metcalf and several other well-known acting personalities.  Soon after, Gary was appearing on TV and in film parts.  In 1994, when Gary landed the role of Lt. Dan in the movie, Forrest Gump, his life was changed forever.  

After September 11, Gary was called to a greater action to support our nation’s defenders.  He wanted to give back to them for their selfless service.  In 2011, he established the Gary Sinise Foundation, an organization whose mission is to serve, honor and raise funds for America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need.  Gary entertains more than half a million troops and first responders at home and abroad, playing bass guitar with his Lt. Dan Band.

Gary, 64, comes from a long line of servicemen: his grandfather fought in the Battle of Argonne Forest in World War I, his uncles served in Europe and Japan in World War II and his dad was a Navy photographer during the Korean War.  While he was in high school, it was the height of the Vietnam War.  Gary admits he was oblivious to much of what was happening to our young men and women in Southeast Asia.

The message Gary wants to deliver is that he loves his country and is forever grateful to be an American. He understands where his freedom comes from and does not take for granted the sacrifices of those who provide it.  He hopes that his book will ensure that America’s defenders and their families are never forgotten.  

The four-star Air Force General and CEO of Gary Sinise Foundation is General Robin Rand.  He got the idea for a tribute to Gary and orchestrated the star-studded video including celebrity appearances and veteran thank yous.  He was overcome with emotion. “That makes me feel really good,” says Gary.

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