If you saw the movie Forrest Gump, you witnessed Gary Sinise's Oscar-nominated portrayal of Lieutenant Dan, a disabled Vietnam war veteran struggling to adjust to postwar life--but you may not have known that honoring America's veterans was a cause close to Sinise's heart long before the Gump script came along.
As one of the original founders of the iconic Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, Sinise successfully directed and starred in the stage play "Tracers" which required that Sinise delve deeply into the real-life war and post-war experiences of actual Vietnam veterans--a life-changing process which would transform his own life purpose to one of service.
Aptly titled "Grateful American," Sinise's memoir opens with a retelling of his experience as a troubled 14-year-old boy whose encounter with one caring adult forever altered his life trajectory and helped aim him towards the success he has achieved.
The message in Sinise's memoir--and in his daily life-- is one of calling us all to the service of others – and more specifically in his case, to the military men and women who sacrifice their lives protecting our country.
Sinise's conversational writing style in Grateful American is like hearing an intriguing story from an old buddy, and while the writing is somewhat formulaic, the message and story are powerful.