Thursday, February 27, 2014
We Salute You....Lieutenant Dan.
Twenty years ago, character actor Gary Sinise played the supporting role of Lieutenant Dan in the movie classic, "Forrest Gump". For me, that film holds a very special place in my heart. Not only is it one of my all time favorite movies, but while at the theater watching the movie, deep in the summer of '94, two days after my due date with Frick, my water broke. After the movie I went directly to the hospital to give birth to my first child. My bay girl.
But this morning I saw a piece on GMA about actor Gary Sinise and about how the role of Lt Dan changed his life. WOW, wow, WOW! is just about all I could say...
The role of Lt. Dan earned Sinise an Oscar nomination but his dedication to the role didn't stop there. Gary Sinise, since playing the role in the early 90's, has dedicated his time honoring and serving disabled US veterans and their families. Sinise told GMA's Josh Elliot, "I've walked into so many hospital rooms and they (the veterans) look at me and they think I know what they're going through."
He founded the Gary Sinise Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to raising money for veterans and their families and he hasn't stopped there. Sinise says, "I just couldn't not do anything. I've seen a lot of need and I've become very committed to [being] somebody who can try to make a difference."
Earlier this month Sinise had the rare opportunity to take 50 disabled veterans and their families on an all expense paid, 3 day trip to Hollywood, where the real Lt Dan was created. Sinise was able to fly them on American Airlines to Los Angeles where they were greeted by a police escort to their Los Angeles Destination. They went to Disneyland and enjoyed a carte blanche day of enjoyment on the rides and were inspired by other veterans to try some things they normally would not. Of course, Lt. Dan was there every step of the way.
The next day the vets went to Paramount studios where they were treated to a special screening of "Forrest Gump".
"The film's producer Wendy Finerman helped remake the studio's backlot into an A-list-heavy celebration, complete with a flyover from a pair of P-51 Mustangs, and helped set up a screening of the movie."
And in after the screening, a special surprise visit from Forrest Gump himself! Oscar winning actor Tom Hanks came out to greet the vets and express his thanks for their sacrifices. Even the most hardened heart would be hard pressed to keep a dry eye when watching this.
Lt Dan, we salute you! And Gary Sinise salutes our vets,
"The whole purpose is to send them home smiling," Sinise said. "They should know that they're appreciated and that's what we're trying to do here."