Gary Sinise once had thousands of military veterans cheering for him

Gary Sinise returned to host PBS’ Memorial Day concert in 2023, and his appearance is making fans wonder whether the celeb served in the US military in his early days.

The Forrest Gump actor returned to Washington DC on Sunday, May 28 to host 2023’s National Memorial Day concert.

This year, the show has a starry lineup of performers and guests. Some of the big names in presence were Joe Mantegna, Yolanda Adams, Trace Adkins,Mary McCormack, John Slattery,Joe Dee Messina and Phillip Phillips.

While the concert left many viewers feeling patriotic, some became curious about Gary’s connection with the military.

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Did Gary Sinise serve in the US military?

No, Gary did not serve in the US military. The actor, musician, and philanthropist never had a military career.

The 68-year-old star was born into a film family – his father was a film editor. At the age of 19, Gary formed the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. It soon became popular among up-and-coming actors, playwrights, and more.

Gary went on to become an actor and director. He has appeared in films and shows like Of Mice and Men (1992), Apollo 13 (1995) and Mission to Mars (2000) among others.

Some of the actor’s directorial work includes China Beach (1991), Of Mice and Men (1992) and Miles From Home (1988). Moreover, he has produced Brothers At War (2009), Impostor (2001), and CSI: NY (2005-2013).

Despite his film background, Gary has done extensive work to help military personnel as well as their families.

29th Annual Achilles Gala
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Actor runs a foundation for veterans

Gery set up the Gary Sinise Foundation to help veterans in need.

“At the Gary Sinise Foundation, we serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need,” the foundation’s about page reads.

It runs several programs such as R.I.S.E (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment). Through this program, the organization builds 100 per cent mortgage-free homes for veterans who are severely wounded.

Through its First Responders Outreach, they provide funding for essential equipment, emergency relief, as well as training to the first responders.

For his years of contribution to the veterans, Gary earned titles like Honorary Chief Petty Officer from the Navy and Honorary Battalion Chief from New York Fire Department.

The actor also received Presidential Citizens Medal from President George W. Bush in 2008.

Gary played an injured military veteran in Forrest Gump

In the hit 1994 film Forrest Gump, the Oscar-nominated actor played Lieutenant Dan Taylor, a platoon leader during the Vietnam War.

Lt Dan loses his legs during an ambush. Tom Hanks‘ Forrest rescues him but he initially feels bitter toward Forrest for saving his life and forcing him to live life with disabilities. The two develop a friendship later.

The actor revealed, per Screenrant, that he received letters and phone calls from real Vietnam War veterans thanks to his Forrest Gump role.

Recalling his experience of attending a military convention after his Forrest Gump role, Gary revealed there were 2,000 wounded veterans cheering for him and his movie role.

“It was August of 1994 and they invited me to come to their national convention. And this, I walked out on stage and there were 2,000 wounded veterans, going back all the way to World War 2, and they were applauding me for playing Lt. Dan.”

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