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Gary Sinise and Marcus Brotherton

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service

Thomas Nelson

When people meet actor-humanitarian Gary Sinise, they usually recognize him as Lieutenant Dan, the disabled Vietnam veteran he played in the movie Forrest Gump. On his first USO trip to Kuwait in 2003, the very first soldier he met said, “Hey Lieutenant Dan, you got legs!” In fact, every soldier referred to him as Lieutenant Dan. He came to realize that if meeting “Lieutenant Dan” (as opposed to Gary Sinise) made someone’s day, that was okay by him.

 

Grateful American is the story of how Sinise found his calling to serve and honor America’s defenders, veterans and first responders, their families, and others in need. He wanted to make sure that these Americans were never forgotten.

The book begins by telling the story of how a young Sinise grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. As a teenager, he was more interested in music and sports than school. Sinise received a guitar for Christmas in fourth grade and from there formed bands with friends. He played baseball and football in junior high. By high school, he was headed down a dark road until he crossed paths with drama teacher Barbara Patterson.

 

Mrs. Patterson was directing West Side Story and asked Sinise and his friends to come and audition. To his surprise, he was chosen to be a Shark and he found his new community. Theater became his second chance. From there, Sinise learned everything he could about acting, directing, running sound, painting sets, and taking small parts.

 

In 1974, Sinise and his friends formed the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, still in existence today. The company put on many plays and included soon-to-be well-known actors like John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf and Joan Allen. It was there that he met his future wife Moira Harris. In 1979, Sinise and Harris would move out to California.

 

In the 1980s and early ‘90s, Sinise would direct a movie and star in a production of Of Mice and Men. He played the lead in a TV miniseries of Stephen King’s The Stand and in 1993 won the role that would change his life.

 

Sinise was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump, and starred on TV’s CSI: New York for nine seasons. In the meantime, he began working with the USO, traveling to visit American troops overseas and in the U.S. He started the Gary Sinise Foundation to help veterans and first responders and their families.

 

Sinise also created the Lieutenant Dan Band to perform and raise money for these people. One aspect of his foundation is building new homes for disabled veterans free of charge.

 

This is a moving story of a young man from Chicago who found his calling to help those who defend America, a calling that Sinise serves selflessly.

– Samantha Lambert

Larry Loftis

Code Name: Lise

Gallery Books

Code Name: Lise is the true story of Odette Sansom, a French woman who moved to England and, thanks to sending an employment application to the wrong address, got a job as a courier in a network of British and French Resistance operations in World War II. Her exploits made her the most highly decorated spy of the war. Loftis keeps the action going at the pace of a novel—escapes, torturous Gestapo interrogations, even a little romance—all based on documents and recorded interviews. The result is a complex, grey-area world, with loyalties shifting and turning on a dime.

– Bruce Collier
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