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The man behind 'Lt. Dan' is all patriotism, no politics
Gary Sinise just published a new memoir called Grateful American, and it's every bit as modest as anyone who has followed his years of support for the veteran community would expect.
Except Gary's greatest talent shines through the humility with which he tells his story. To be sure, he's an extraordinarily gifted actor who has had a storied career both in serious theater and popular movies and television. But his most profound gift is his empathy for men and women who serve their country.
Of course, his particular acting talent isn't unrelated to an ability to see the world through another's eyes. Still, there are plenty of performers who don't share that insight and not many Americans share the sense of mission that Gary's has given him.
Grateful American is co-written with Marcus Brotherton, who also worked with Army veteran Travis Mills on his excellent autobiography As Tough As They Come. Sinise knows Mills well from his work with veterans, and Travis makes an appearance in this book
When Sinise tells his life story, he talks about his own family's service in WWI and WWII and how his wife Moira's brothers both served in Vietnam. When he was artistic director of Chicago's influential Steppenwolf Theatre (a group he co-founded), he directed a powerful 1984 production of John DiFusco's Vietnam War play "Tracers." That work featured Sinise and fellow future stars Dennis Farina (Det. Fontana on "Law & Order"), Gary Cole (Lumbergh in "Office Space"), Terry Kinney (McManus on "Oz") and Tom Irwin (Angela's dad on "My So-Called Life").
Along the way, he talks about growing up with a dad in the movie business: Robert Sinise edited the early, notorious movies directed by splatter-film pioneer Herschell Gordon Lewis. Gary was a terrible student, an avid musician and enthusiastic participant in the counterculture of the early 1970s.
Too young to serve in Vietnam, Sinise knew he wasn't college material and instead followed his instincts and became a driving force behind one of the most influential regional theater groups in American history. There are few actors with Gary's impact who've never received formal training. He credits a high school theater teacher with turning his stoner life around but he's done all the rest on his own.
For the rest of the 1980s and the early years of the 1990s, Sinise continued to add to his creative and artistic credits. He directed and starred alongside fellow Steppenwolf founder John Malkovich in an overwhelmingly successful production of "True West" that played in both Chicago and New York.
Sinise later directed and then re-teamed with Malkovich to star in a 1992 movie version of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men." It wasn't a big hit at the time, but has come to be seen as a classic, a movie that's shown in high school literature classes all over the country.
Everything changed with "Forrest Gump." Sinise gives the movie the attention it deserves and there are plenty of making-of stories included for fans of Lt. Dan Taylor.
The cover of 'Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service'(Nelson Books)
And, yet, it's the story of his nearly forty-year marriage to Moira, her battle with alcoholism and subsequent conversion to Catholicism that's the heart of the story. Gary and Moira's marriage survived the kind of rough times that end most relationships in the real world, and end Hollywood marriages virtually 100 percent of the time.
Another gift Sinise displays is an ability to write about patriotism minus the politics. He writes eloquently about how 9/11 inspired him to take a more active role in supporting the men and women who serve and how the 2003 invasion of Iraq convinced him to sign up for USO tours.
The second half of the book is devoted to tales of his work with the USO and with veterans groups. Fans of Detective Mac Taylor from "CSI:NY" won't be disappointed with the stories he tells about that role, but it's obvious that Sinise's life priorities have shifted to entertaining the troops with the Lt. Dan Band and working with his foundation.
He talks about patriotism and service and never mentions the current president (nor his immediate predecessor). He does namecheck dozens of service members and veterans and the people who run the charities who support them. Sinise is interested in common ground. If that's not what you want from a public figure, you'd best read something besides "Grateful American."
Gary Sinise has instead written a book that can appeal to anyone who's interested in his theater and movie careers and -- at the same time -- inspire readers who know him best from his work in support of military members. It's a tough assignment to pull off, but this book delivers with generosity and ease."
This article originally appeared on Military.com
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SEE ALSO: Gary Sinise Has Some Thoughts On Paying Lip Service To Vets Over Taking 'Real Serious Action'
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Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.
The U.S. Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon effort looked a lot more possible this week as the three competing weapons firms displayed their prototype 6.8mm rifles and automatic rifles at the 2019 Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.
Just two months ago, the Army selected General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems inc., Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. for the final phase of the NGSW effort — one of the service's top modernization priorities to replace the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units.
Army officials, as well as the companies in competition, have been guarded about specific details, but the end result will equip combat squads with weapons that fire a specially designed 6.8mm projectile, capable of penetrating enemy body armor at ranges well beyond the current M855A1 5.56mm round.
There have previously been glimpses of weapons from two firms, but this year's AUSA was the first time all three competitors displayed their prototype weapons, which are distinctly different from one another.
The Air Force is investigating whether an airman smoked weed at a missile alert facility for nuclear Minuteman ICBMs
The Air Force is investigating reports that an airman consumed marijuana while assigned to one of the highly-sensitive missile alert facility (MAF) responsible for overseeing Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.