Gary Sinise has been an advocate for America’s veterans and their families for nearly forty years, and now he’s receiving an all-star salute. Gen. Colin Powell several famous actors, and many of the veterans who have benefited from Sinise’s service work over the years took time to show their gratitude in a special surprise video tribute.
“Completely shocked and speechless by this surprise video,” Gary Sinise wrote on Facebook. “Incredibly touched and grateful by everyone’s support. I’m crying, so choked up, I thought I’d share.”
A few of the stars who participated in the video include Steve Buscemi, Tim Allen, Robert De Niro, Maria Shriver, Jay Leno, and Patricia Heaton.
“Your commitment, your dedication, you are awesome,” Ron Howard, director of “Apollo 13,” said in the video.
“Thank you for all the things you have done for our men and women who have served our nation,” Gen. Colin Powell said. “Not only what you’ve done for them but for their children, what you’ve done for their families, what you’ve done to help them rebuild their lives.”
The video also included words of gratitude from war veterans and their loved ones from all over the country, including recipients of brand new homes via the Gary Sinise Foundation’s RISE program.
“As you can see we’re in front of this beautiful house right now,” one veteran said, while standing in front of said home. “We wouldn’t have had it were it not for your kindness, graciousness and your wonderful gift of giving.”
The video ends with an appearance by Sinise’s “Forrest Gump” co-star Tom Hanks.
“Thanks, Lieutenant Dan!” the 62-year-old said with a smile, referring to Sinise’s iconic role in the film.
View this post on Instagram
#FreshInk Thanks to GARY SINISE for Signing some #ForrestGump Photos for Us #GarySinise #LtDan #LieutenantDan #CSI #CSINY #MacTaylor #OfMiceAndMen #Randson #Apollo13 #TheGreenMile #SnakeEyes #Autograph #Graphs #RACCTrusted #RACCTrustedSeller #InPerson #ExactProof #Autographs
The idea for the heartfelt surprise came from Four Star General (RET) Robin Rand, CEO of the Gary Sinise Foundation, reported People.
Rand rallied everyone shown in the video to help surprise Sinise, and he also used the opportunity to spread goodwill and inspire others to give back to their communities via a social media campaign titled #GratefulLikeGary.
View this post on Instagram
We are honored to have hosted @garysiniseofficial and @foxandfriends’ @kilmeade at Friends of Firefighters HQ this past Sunday to celebrate the launch of Gary’s new book, Grateful American. (Out today!) ???????? Gary stepped up to help our organization out with a fundraiser when we needed it most and for that we are #gratefullikegary. This morning the two sat down at @foxnews to discuss Gary’s academic struggles as a kid, playing Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump and his never-ending mission to assist veterans and first responders. If you couldn’t be with us Sunday night, click the link in our profile to watch their interview on @foxnews this morning, the next best thing. And if you care to keep our mission of providing free counseling and wellness services to active and retired @fdny firefighters and their families going strong, visit www.friendsoffirefighters.org to make a donation today. Thank you. ???? by @sapsnapphoto
Since the making of “Forest Gump” in 1994, Sinise increased his support for American troops.
He began in the early 80s with his support for Vietnam veterans groups, according to his biography. Throughout the 90s, Sinise worked on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans organizations.
In 2003, he also embarked on several USO handshake tours. In the following year, he formed the Lt. Dan Band and began entertaining troops serving abroad and at home. Since then, the band has performed close to 30 shows a year for military bases, charities and fundraisers supporting wounded heroes.
In 2011, he established the Gary Sinise Foundation. Its mission is “to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need by creating and supporting unique programs that entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities.”