Gary Sinise is a movie industry favorite, having been acting since the early seventies, but was he ever in the military?
Gary Sinise wasn’t ever in the military, but he is an honorary USMC Marine. In 2013, he was named an honorary marine for his work as Lt. Dan in the 1993 production, Forrest Gump.
Read on to learn more about the fascinating and long-serving career of Gary Sinise.
Friend To The Service
Gary Sinise obtained critical acclaim for his portrayal of a mutilated serviceman in Forrest Gump. He played the role of Lt. Dan to perfection, becoming forever iconized in cinema history. His accurate and somewhat heartbreaking performance was a hit with soldiers and civilians alike.
In the film, Lt. Dan is an anguished character. He’s lost his legs in the Vietnam War and has returned home to suffer psychologically and physically. At one point in the movie, Lt. Dan turns to his friend Forrest Gump and says, “You should have left me out there to die.”
You can see a clip of this scene in the video below, taken from YouTube.
An event that kick-started Sinise’s adoration and support for the armed forces was September 11th. This is of course an event cemented in history as one of the most notorious acts of terrorism on American soil. He’d already been in favor of the military, but this event made him support them in earnest.
In a blog post in 2019, Sinise’s reaction to this event is explored. It’s explained that he felt utter devastation and numbness, harboring a deeply broken heart. His reaction to the event was first and foremost to support the veterans of the armed forces. He began involving himself in charitable work, raising money for injured veterans especially.
In 2011, Gary Sinise went on to found the Gary Sinise Foundation. This organization was created with a simple goal: to raise money to support injured veterans. In 2018 the cause hit an all-time high, and over the course of a year, they raised around thirty-five million dollars.
The Foundation expands to also support and honor ‘first responders’. It’s these people who are the earliest on scene at tragedies like 9/11. They shoulder some of the heaviest burdens when it comes to rescuing and recovering victims.
In 2013, Gary Sinise’s contributions to the military world were officially recognized. He was made an honorary Marine, a title bestowed to a very small number of people in the world. This accolade was given to him by General James F. Amos, the Marine Corps commandant at the time.
In celebration and tribute to Sinise, he explained, “There is little I can say to enhance the rich reputation Gary Sinise has earned.” Reportedly, Sinise had no idea the award was coming and was “shocked, moved and motivated” as a result.
Another actor who received this award was the late, great Jim Nabors. This man sadly passed away in August 2020 but received his accolade for similar service. Nabors portrayed a Marine in a massively successful sitcom that ran through the sixties, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.. He received his honorary membership in 2001 and was ‘promoted’ in 2007.
Outside The Force
Gary Sinise has had considerable success as an actor and performer. His work on the big screen has been iconic in some cases, such as his portrayal of Lt. Dan, or as George in Of Mice and Men.
The latter movie is a classic and was actually released before Forrest Gump. In this production, Sinise not only acted but also directed and produced. The movie was based on a Steinbeck novel of the same name, released some seventy years prior.
Sinise also enjoyed many roles on television, making appearances on shows such as CSI and Criminal Minds. He also assumed a lead role in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why in 2020. He’s a very highly awarded actor, even going as far as being nominated for Academy and Golden Globe awards.
In 2004, he founded a band called the Lt. Dan Band. This is a traditional cover band but performs almost exclusively in front of servicemen and women around the world. Their shows are staged to raise money for veterans through the Gary Sinise Foundation.
His philanthropic work has earned him numerous rewards, including the Presidential Citizens Medal. As of 2020, Gary Sinise was still making movies, raising money for the armed forces, and working hard to change the world.