I had a very short encounter Friday night with Gary Sinise who grew up in Blue Island and attended high school in Highland Park before he married Moria Harris from Pontiac. He was also an early director of the Steppenwolf Theater Company. Since the event started in 2006, Gary has been a solid suppoter of the annual GI Film Festival in Wasghington, DC. My sister Cheryl Felicia Rhoads is on the advisory committtee for the festival which has been decribed as "a Sundance Film Festival for the Troops."
This year the festival features 50 movies that celebrate the contributions of America's military families. It is the only festival of its kind to celebrate America's military heroes past and present. The Gary Sinise Foundation and American Airlines are two of the major sponsors of the festival, which is carried on the Pentagon Channel and will soon be replicated in a partnership with Cinemark Theaters in many cities in the country and near major military bases.
Gary became active in supporting wounded warriors after he played the role of Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump in 1994. His Lt. Dan Band has played at USO events for troops at home and overseas. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno paid tribute to Gary last night for his thousands of hours of volunteer work to help military on active duty and veterans. Gay Sinise is an Illinois native son who gives back to his country and Illinoisans of any political stripe should be very proud of Gary and his accomplishments for America's troops. Thank you Gary. Your home state of Illinois is proud of your work.