Friday, January 23, 2009

Gary Sinese, “Friend of Our Troops,” Awarded Presidential Citizens Medal

A belated acknowledgement of the great and well-deserved honor bestowed upon actor Gary Sinese by President Bush at the White House last month. Chicagoan Sinese was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal for his activities in support of our service men and women and their families.

Sinise currently stars in CSI: New York and is also well known for his Oscar-nominated role as Lt. Dan Taylor in the movie Forrest Gump. Sinese is a co-founder of the Steppenwolf Theater Company of Chicago. I saw some great performances of his in the 1980s in Steppenwolf plays in the old theater at Hull House on Broadway and Belmont.

From Andrew Breitbart (link):

Since war became a geographically distant but very real way of life after Sept. 11, 2001, no Hollywood star has stepped up to support active duty U.S. military personnel and wounded veterans like Gary Sinise. There is no close second. And quietly, as is in his nature, he is becoming something akin to this generation´s Bob Hope…. Michael Yon, a Special Forces vet and the pre-eminent war journalist of our time, communicated his admiration in a dispatch from Bahrain: "Gary is a true friend of the American soldier. He does not hesitate to travel into war zones to express his admiration and personal support for those who defend us. He visits wounded soldiers, some of whom I personally know. All love him. Soldiers from privates to generals admire Gary for his dedication to a cause greater than any of us. Gary's dedication went much further. He personally supported [through his own Operation Iraqi Children] sending millions of dollars worth of school and clothing supplies to Iraqi children. I saw this effort with my own eyes. Gary Sinise is a Great American."

In 2004, Mr. Sinise, wanting to do more, formed the Lt. Dan Band, a jam band created almost exclusively to entertain the troops in and out of war zones. "It´s very important that you know we are grateful," the bass guitar playing Mr.Sinise recently said while performing at the Pentagon. "The sacrifice you and your families make - you are not forgotten."

Deb Rickert of Operation Support our Troops said it best about Mr. Sinise: "In an age when the public often lavishes epitaphs of greatness on celebrities merely because they are famous, the military community bestows the simple title of friend on Gary Sinise truly because that is what he is to us."

Richard R Balsamo