It's been almost 20 years since Gary Sinise played the character Lieutenant Dan in the feel good movie Forrest Gump. However, that role still has a dramatic effect on the actor's life. On Valentine's Day, Sinise treated 50 military veterans to a free trip to Disneyland in California. And he also got a few of his Hollywood friends to show up and pay tribute to our wounded warriors.
Tom Hanks, Tom Arnold, and Ted Danson joined Sinise and his charirty The Gary Sinise Foundation in welcoming the wounded veterans to California. Sinise's charity helps to serve veterans, first responders, and families in need of assistance.
The Gary Sinise Foundation's mission statement:
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 our gratitude to our nation's defenders, we can always do a little more
The veterans were also treated to a viewing of Forrest Gump which features Sinise as Lt. Dan, a proud military leader who loses both his legs fighting in Vietnam. Lt. Dan turns to alcohol and falls into deep depression but is saved by Gump when the two men start up Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and strike it rich.
The film has had a profound effect on Sinise who hosts various special events for members of the military. The CSI: NY actor even named his rock band, The Lt. Dan Band. The band plays at military bases around the country.
Sinise spoke about the iconic role, "Who would have thought that 20 years later Lieutenant Dan would still play a part in my life? There's something different about this part... The veterans in my family, what had happened to them when they came home from war, I just felt such compassion for them and guilt too." The actor added, "There's a hopeful ending to the story of Lieutenant Dan and all our wounded veterans want that story... that they can be standing up again and moving on with life and doing alright. The whole purpose is to send them home smiling. They should know what I'm trying to do here."
— Josh Elliott (@JoshElliottABC) February 27, 2014
You'll Think Actor Gary Sinise Is Beyond Awesome When You See What He Does For Disabled Vets http://t.co/68ZhlqxrZ0
— Donna Banister (@DonnaBanister) February 24, 2014
Image via Gary Sinise, Twitter