The Grammy’s may not have the cultural clout of some of the other award shows, but the audience and star power are both stunning. Most of the celebratory praise of the spectacle is reserved for the actors and musicians in attendance. And a lot of it can look like industry insiders congratulating each other being famous.
[Scroll Down for Video]
But not when Gary Sinise took the microphone this year.
“Good evening,” Sinise said. “I’d like to take one brief second to send a special thank you and shout-out to the men and women around the world serving out country around the world who are in harm’s way. Thank you very much.”
That was it. Short, simple–and to the point. And a bit odd, considering the venue. So there’s got to be a story, right?
It wasn’t something Sinise had spoken about, until recently, when he sat down with the Independent Journal Review.
“I had a live mic in my hand,” Sinise said. “With a world-wide audience watching, I knew I had an opportunity to remind folks that there are men and women deployed around the world that are fighting for our freedom. Much of what I’m doing constantly on a daily basis is trying to raise awareness, so it just seemed like a natural thing for me to do. It wasn’t even a minute, it took about ten seconds you know, to say thank you. That’s all it takes. It was easy.”
That part was easy. The acknowledgement. But Sinise hasn’t stopped there. “I think it’s our responsibility as citizens to also pitch in to do something,” Sinise said. With that in mind, he created the Gary Sinise Foundation (with the tagline: “For the Real Lt. Dans”).
When the actor isn’t appearing in films, or television show like “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders,” he tours the world supporting America’s troops.
Sinise takes the matter to heart. He had two brothers-in-law who fought and returned home from Vietnam. Sinise watched how they were treated and wasn’t pleased.
His feelings are much more in line with those who value the contributions made on our behalf by so many. Consider this tweet from Sinise:
“Honored and proud to attend induction ceremony at FT Leavenworth today for LTG Hal Moore and my brother in law LT Colonel Boyd McCanna “Mac” Harris (1944 -1983 ) into the FT Leavenworth Hall of Fame. Mac, seen here as a Major, was a two tour Vietnam veteran. Thank you Mac. #thankyou”
And Sinise’s family has a long history of service. His Uncle Jack, was a navigator in a B-17 bomber in WWII.
“One of the things that I wanted my Uncle Jack to be able to do was to go to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. It’s an extraordinary place. The Museum has a program where they record World War II veterans on tape and preserve them on their archive…So I sent my Uncle Jack down there with my dad.”
After his uncle’s experience, Sinise formed “Soaring Valor,” a program that ensures veterans and their families can visit the museum. [Scroll Down for Video]
“When you see these World War II veterans, you know, they’re just generally very simple people who came back from that war, the most terrible war in human history, and they went back to their lives. Many of them tried to forget about it. Many of them never talked about it. And to see them go to the National World War II Museum, relive some of those experiences together, share and bond with their fellow veterans and share with their family members, it’s very, very powerful and very moving.”
Sinise seems like a stellar example of philanthropy, and one that we can all learn from.
“You can always put your hands immediately on the challenge,” he said. “You can seek out the veterans or military families in your neighborhood or town or city and see if there are ways you can volunteer.We’ve been at war for a long time here now, and these military families have been through a lot, and they need our help.”
And for Sinise, it isn’t just about the past. He knows there more to come. “The 21st century is very dangerous, and we’re going to be calling on our military over and over. People need to stand behind them—they are, after all, our freedom providers.”
And is all of this wasn’t enough, Sinise is being honored for his service to veterans with the 2016 Bradley Prize, an award for those who do great work on behalf of veterans that includes a check for $250,000. Sinise plans to give it all to the Foundation, where it belongs.