Today, 27 more World War II veterans made the trip from Los Angeles to New Orleans, as part of the Gary Sinise Foundation‘s “Soaring Valor” trip. This program has brought hundreds of veterans to the National World War II Museum in an effort to collect stories from these war heroes.
WGNO (h/t Ellen H) Actor Gary Sinise, whose foundation has spent millions of helping veterans of all wars and their families, from helping them find housing said this program is all about preserving history and honoring these veterans.
“There’s never been a more devastating war in human history than what happened in World War II. We have these living, breathing libraries of history. We want to spend as much time with them as we can,” Sinise said.
Washington Times Gary Sinise began providing free performances and dinners for Vietnam veterans — what he called “vets nights” — in the late 1970s, long before he was a household name thanks to his Oscar-nominated portrayal of the man who loses his legs in the jungles of Vietnam.
Even before he portrayed Lt. Dan Taylor, the Vietnam commander saved by Forrest Gump from certain death in the 1994 best picture winner, the Chicago native and co-founder of the iconic Steppenwolf Theater knew he had to do something to give back to America’s heroes.
“I have lots of veterans on my side of the family and on my wife’s side of the family,” Mr. Sinise told The Washington Times.
Despite a storied theater resume in Chicago and on Broadway, to say nothing of a Hollywood career encompassing 50 film and television credits, Mr. Sinise is proud that his greatest role is away from the cameras — shining a light on those who fight to keep America safe.
“I spend all my time these days working with veterans,” Mr. Sinise said.
After 9/11, Mr. Sinise felt a calling to support the armed forces greater than ever before. He founded the Gary Sinise Foundation, which proclaims on its Website:
Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take for granted. We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security. While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more. – Gary Sinise
“I started doing USO tours right after Sept. 11 as an actor, and I would go out there and would shake hands and take pictures,” Mr. Sinise said.
The Foundation has provided many smart homes for veterans with permanent disabilities:
With a few Chicago-area friends, Mr. Sinise even formed the Lt. Dan Band, whose initial mission was to travel the world to USO shows to entertain troops like a modern-day Bob Hope revue program.
“I just really wanted to entertain and do something,” Mr. Sinise said. “I talked the USO into letting me take the musicians with me on the tour, and that began a very, very serious effort to entertain wherever I could.”
He estimates that he has performed in over 150 USO shows at military hospitals and bases around the world. His schedule to do so opened up significantly when the TV show “CSI: New York,” on which Mr. Sinise starred, went off the air in February 2013.
For more information about The Gary Sinise Foundation and the Soaring Valor program, click HERE.