Gary Sinise who famously played Lt. Dan in 'Forrest Gump' was nearly in tears after watching a surprise thank you video from celebrities and those his foundation has helped.
Actor Gary Sinise has been busy making a difference in the lives of the brave men and women who serve America. Coming from a family with a military background, it was important to Sinise to do what he could to help. In 2011, he started the Gary Sinise Foundation through which over $30 million has been raised annually. His foundation contributes to programs that focus on building customized homes for veterans that have been injured or disabled during service among others. Sinise who famously played Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump was given a moving video tribute by co-star Tom Hanks and several other prominent faces as part of a campaign aimed at appreciating his humanitarian body of work. Sinise was taken by surprise and left nearly in tears by the touching gesture. Four Star General (RET) Robin Rand, CEO of the Gary Sinise Foundation is the brains behind the video.
Rand made the effort to reach out to the people featured in the video and planned the whole surprise to honor Sinise for the 40 years of heart and soul he has poured into supporting veterans, active duty service men and women, first responders, their families, caregivers, and anyone who could use a hand. Rand hopes that the video would help drive the social media campaign #GratefulLikeGary and in turn motivate others to contribute to their communities too. Apart from Tom Hanks and other celebrity A-listers, the video also featured veterans and their families who thanked Sinise for all that he has done for him.
Sinise's reaction while watching the whole video has been captured by the foundation and it is clear from it how much the kinds words from everyone meant to Sinise. It is not every day that you get goodwill messages from your peers and those of deep gratitude from the ones you tirelessly work to serve. Robert DeNiro, Colin Powell, Jay Leno, Judd Apatow, Ron Howard, and Tim Allen were some of the notable faces that featured in the video. Tom Hanks who shared screen space with Sinise in Forrest Gump, seized the opportunity to offer a playful nod to Sinise's character, saying "Thanks, Lieutenant Dan."
The 1994 Oscar-winning movie has immortalized Sinise as Lieutenant Dan, who was Tom Hanks' commanding officer in the movie. Now, 63, Sinise's character was navigating the challenging ocean of disability, brought on by the Vietnam war following which he lost both his legs. In an interview with Fox News, Sinise admitted that he often gets recognized as Lieutenant Dan when he meets with real-life heroes. "I found out that when I started visiting our wounded in the hospitals and walking into those hospitals, they would look at me and they would recognize me as Lt. Dan. They wouldn’t know what my real name as, but they’d call me Lt. Dan," said Sinise.
While Sinise has been to war on screen, he has not experienced it for himself in real life, a fact that has often made him feel guilty. Especially because most of the men in his family have served and he has understood the sacrifices that those who serve, make. Which is what prompted him to dedicate a significant part of his life for their welfare. Sinise confessed to People, "All during the Vietnam War, I was just a high school kid playing in bands and getting in trouble. I felt guilty that, when they were off at war, I was oblivious to what they were going through. I’ve just tried to give them something back."
Sinise shared how his brothers-in-law who served the country told him about the Vietnam War and all they encountered. He learned about the Korean War from his father, while his two uncles were there to tell him about how they fought in WWII, and finally there was his grandfather who served in WWI. It's safe to assume Sinise has personally invested in the foundation and understands the importance of taking care of those who step up and make great personal sacrifices for the sake of the country.
The tribute to Sinise comes at a great time in his life. Apart from the fact that Forrest Gump is turning 25 this year, Sinise's new book Grateful American was released just a few days ago on February 12. The book follows the pivotal moments in his life that eventually steered him away from 'self' and towards 'service'. If you'd like to join the #GratefulLikeGary social media campaign flagged off by The Gary Sinise Foundation, all you need to do is share the video on your social media and take a moment to express gratitude for someone in your life either by leaving a comment or adding a video. It is time we appreciated kindness and commitment more.