Gary Sinise After 9/11

Television and film actor Gary Sinise warms up with his Lt. Dan Band Friday, Feb. 1, 2008 on the theater stage at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, SD. The EAFB stop is the first of five scheduled this spring as part of a USO tour for Sinise and his 11-member band, named for his character in the 1994 film "Forrest Gump." Sinise's band has played at numerous U.S. military bases around the world since he formed it in 2003. (AP Photo/Steve McEnroe)

“After that something changed.”

That’s what actor Gary Sinise thought the day after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001. And, that’s the subject of a new documentary by Kip Perry recently screened at the GI Film Festival. 


Before, Sinise was indistinguishable from many Hollywood luminaries. He starred in movies, most famously in the film “Forrest Gump” (1994). He played a cop on a hit TV series.

And while his career continues, starring in a new series that’s a spin-off of “Criminal Minds,” since 9/11 Sinise has contributed much of his time and talent to serving the military, veterans, first-responders, and their families.

In the film “Forrest Gump,” he played Lieutenant Dan, a Vietnam veteran dealing with the wounds of war. “After 9/11,” Sinise recalled, “we had a whole new generation of real-life Lieutenant Dans.”

Sinise formed the Lt. Dan Band, which performs for military audiences and plays benefit concerts around the world. That project was the subject of another documentary.

“Gary Sinise: Always Do A Little More” (2017) tells the story of how Gary got started on his journey of giving back, which includes not just his work with the band, but the many good deeds accomplished through the Gary Sinise Foundation.

“Most people think Gary’s work with the military stems from his role as Lt. Dan in the film Forrest Gump,” explains filmmaker Kip Perry. “Certainly that had a huge effect on him and opened doors…but the true beginning of his awareness and interest goes back to his Steppenwolf days, just out of high school in Chicago, and a play called ‘Tracers.’”


“While Gary never served in the military, his wife Moira’s brothers were in Vietnam and so he was constantly hearing about their service,” Perry explains, “then he saw a play — Tracers — in Los Angeles, that was written and produced by a group of Vietnam veterans about the Vietnam war….It was a life-changing experience.”

After 9/11, Sinise turned his admiration for the service and sacrifice of veterans into his life’s passion. “It’s not just a name on a foundation, it’s a personal mission for him that is extra-ordinary,” Perry found in the making of his film. “I don’t think most people understand the time, energy, effort and day-to-day commitment Gary has to this cause — this selfless service to those who serve our nation. A lot of people talk the talk. Few people walk the walk. I’ve been on the road with Gary for a number of years now and this guy walks.”

As Gary says in the film, when it comes to serving those who served, we can “always do a little more.” “Gary Sinise: Always Do A Little More” tells an inspiring and moving story of how to make a difference.


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