Actor & Philanthropist Gary Sinise stops in KC for new book, award

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Most people know him as Lieutenant Dan, and the man who played President Harry Truman, but Gary Sinise is doing much more than acting these days. He's in the metro for a few events to promote his new book, and receive an award.

Sinise sat down with FOX4's Sherae Honeycutt to discuss his new book 'Grateful American: a Journey from Self to Service.'

The actor and philanthropist sat down for a forum interview at Unity Temple on the Plaza Sunday night put on by the Truman Library. President Truman was from Independence, Missouri. Sinise played the leader in his first major leading role back in 1995. He says it was an honor to play Truman, and loved his time shooting the film in the Kansas City area.

"I love my time playing Harry Truman and I loved my time here in Kansas City, where we shot the entire movie," Sinise said. "Walked some of the streets that Truman walked. Spent time in the Truman Library. Met people who knew him. That time was very significant. I write about this in my book, 'Grateful American.' I write about that chapter of playing Harry Truman, and what that was like."

In 2011, Sinise started the Gary Sinise Foundation to help veterans and their families. The organization's goal is to create and support unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities for veterans, first responders, and their families.

"I did a lot of hard work to get to the point where I could make a decent living acting, and since I’ve done that I’ve been able to do some good," Sinise said. "To see the smiles on the faces of the families that we touch, and the wounded soldiers that we work with, and the entertainment we provide on military bases across this country and overseas and the meals and the homes that we’re building. All the things we’re doing at the Gary Siniese Foundation is very gratifying. So, in the book I just kind of journey to the point where it became very very clear where starting my own foundation to support the military was the next step in my journey."

On Monday, he will be honored for the millions of dollars he raises each year to help veterans and their families by Medal of Honor recipient, and Leavenworth resident, Col. Roger Donlan.

"When they called and invited me to come to receive an award in Roger`s name I was touched and humbled, and we tried to figure out when we could do it, because I didn't want to miss it," Sinise said. "I've known them for over a decade now, having supported the medal of honor foundation, and the medal of honor society in so many ways, and I've befriended many of the medal of honor recipients. But, with the Donlon's I've grown very close to them over the years I'm just very touched and honored to be able to be here and receive this award."

Sinise also discussed the struggles veterans face. He says the hardest part can be the disconnect between American citizens and those who serve.

"Veterans will always face the sort of disconnect between the average American citizen," Sinise said. "A citizen who may not have any personal relationship with somebody who is serving, and the military. So, raising awareness, keeping awareness up that this small tiny portion of the population is defending all of us, over three hundred and thirty something million Americans are defended by a couple million people. You give them time, and the disconnect that happens between our average citizen and its military is one of its broader challenges is just trying to connect our citizens with our defenders."

Col. Donlan will present Sinise the Patriot Award in his name Monday afternoon at an event with the Kansas City chapter of the Association of the United States Army.

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