How ‘Forrest Gump’ Inspired Gary Sinise to Host the National Memorial Day Concert
- Gary Sinise, famous for his roles in Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, and CSI: NY, has dedicated his life to “honoring our defenders, our veterans, our first responders, their families and those in need”.
- He started the Gary Sinise Foundation to expand his efforts in 2011.
- Since 2004, Sinise has teamed up with Joe Mantegna to host the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS.
Forrest Gump has changed Gary Sinise’s life in more ways than one. Despite the fact that it was the first film he made “that people really wanted to watch”, it inspired him to dedicate the next 30 years of his life to service. The 64-year-old actor realized the impact of the film very early on: “I remember walking into the first hospital to visit a wounded soldier after September 11, and all he wanted to do was talk to Lt. Dan,” he said Entertainment tonight.
But the actor’s relationship with active military and veterans actually started before he played alongside Tom Hanks in the Hollywood classic. As a member of the Sinise generation, war is a subject that is painfully close to home. Shortly after graduating from university in 1973, combat operations ended in Vietnam. A few years later, he met his wife, who then introduced him to his two brothers who had served in the Vietnam War.
Almost two decades later, Sinise realized his desire to help the military. Playing Lt. Dan Taylor, a soldier who was seriously injured in the Vietnam War, in the 1994 success, he finally began his relationship with the American charity for disabled veterans. Four weeks after the film opened (and the box office summit), the charity asked Sinise to come to their national convention. “They wanted to give me an award for playing what they saw as a positively injured veteran,” he said on Pickler & ben. “This story of a Vietnamese veteran returning from the war and doing well had never been told before.”
And then September 11th came. Shortly after, Sinise made her first USO tour in June 2003. “I just wanted them to know that someone in the entertainment industry they see on TV and in the movies was thinking of them,” said he told FOX News in 2018. In, Sinise brought his group – rightly called the Lt. Dan Band – overseas to entertain the troops. “The reason I call him Lt. Dan Band is because at first no one really knew who Gary Sinise was, but they all knew Lt Dan.”
With his new role in CSI: NY, the actor did not have as much time to devote to his efforts – but he did not let that hamper help for those who needed it: he started Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011 to create and support programs to honor advocates, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need in the United States. “The reason I started the foundation is because I’m just one guy and I can’t be that many places. I wanted to step up my activities,” he told FOX News in 2018. “Even though I couldn’t be there physically to support, we organize events as the Gary Sinise Foundation.”
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Long before having her own foundation, Sinise showed her support for National Memorial Day Concert on PBS. This annual 90-minute show brings together the biggest names in Hollywood, military families and veterans to honor the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. For over a decade, Sinise has partnered with a close friend Joe Mantegna, known for his role as David Rossi on Criminal minds, to host the event.
For what it’s worth, Sinese doesn’t care if people – soldiers and veterans, in particular – want to tell him about Lieutenant Dan 30 years later Forrest Gumpis its beginnings. Why? “Lt. Dan is kind of part of my life because I am very dedicated to our soldiers, very dedicated to ensuring that our veterans know that we appreciate what they do. If they want to talk about Lt. Dan, that’s fine, “he told CNN in 2013.
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