“Lieutenant Dan, Reporting for Duty, Sir!”

| July 14, 2012

With the exceptions of Bob Hope and Martha Raye, there’s probably no other American who never served, who has served more. That person is Gary Sinise, actor, director, producer writer, musician, a bit of a down home, foot-shuffling, aw-shucks guy from the Midwest who has probably spent as much time in war zones as many members of our over-worked military, and certainly more than any Member of Congress. Sinise is one of those rare humans who is easy to sum up in quick terms: a really good guy. Or if you wish to add accolades as I’m sure many in the military would: a really damned good guy, among many other unpublishable terms of praise.

The role Sinise played in Forrest Gump, that of Lieutenant Dan Taylor, an embittered, double-amputee veteran of Vietnam, made him, whether he wanted it to or not, forever a part of the military and veteran community. He wasn’t necessarily a hero, but simply someone with whom they could identify and find some hope and cause in their lives, through his spot-on depiction of the despair and resurrection of a horribly wounded veteran in a horribly wounded cause.

To his everlasting credit, Gary Sinise, quietly accepted the burden of being the iconic, Lt. Dan, to one of the most emotionally and politically disquieted factions in America. Though he’d never worn the uniform, nor much less been in combat, he had thoroughly resonated as Lt. Dan with those who had, as well as the broader audience who had seen his screen depiction. In what I consider a bit of inspired creative and moral genius, in 2004, Sinise, along with Kimo Williams, created the Lt. Dan Band, and began playing to military audiences around the world.

Since that time, Sinise has taken the Lt. Dan Band into combat zones repeatedly to entertain our combat-deployed troops. Few civilians ever attain the level of acceptance among the troops that Sinise has: Bob Hope,, Martha Ray and most assuredly, John Wayne; but few others are in that pantheon, and certainly no other contemporaries. And yes, part of it is attributable to the fictional role of Lt. Dan, but most of it is due to Sinise’s pure dogged determination to serve, uniform or no, as the real deal, a singing junior officer in arms, Lieutenant Dan, in the flesh, right there in the combat zone with them. As a Vietnam vet, that resonates mightily with me, as I’m sure it does with all my brothers and sisters of our war.

As a country, we struggle to preserve and maintain our social structures that made us the great nation that we are.

Regardless of your political views as to the wars we wage, Gary Sinise should be considered an American warrior of the first order in our national conflicts. In fact, should he ever get to the Pearly Gates and be asked if he is, in fact, Gary Sinise, I would advise him to say, “Nope, I’m Lieutenant Dan, reporting for duty, Sir!” Which no doubt will be followed by: “Well get your butt in here, Son; you’re definitely one of us.”

Crossposted at American Thinker.

Category: Support the troops

Comments (16)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Outlaw13 says:

    Not to nitpick because Mr. Sinise is truly a great American who has given a great deal when he didn’t have to, but I would argue that Congressman Allen West and Senator McCain have him beat as far as time in a war zone.

    Mr. Sinise has a great heart and should be applauded for his efforts for the troops!

  2. ROS says:

    I would not ever think of mentioning Marion Morrison in the same breath as Mr. Sinise, Ms. Raye and Mr. Hope. Ever.

    As for Mr. Sinise, my unwavering respect for all he does.

  3. ROS says:

    Side note/query: Has there ever been a female honorary Green Beret other than Martha Raye?

  4. Lowglow says:

    I had the pleasure of spending some time with Mr.Sines at two shows, One at Whiteman AFB, and the other at Keflavik, Iceland.

    From all the things I have discussed with him, he is the real deal, not a fake Hollywood elitist and he has said to me on several occasions that he would much rather spend his time with the Troops than acting.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Never had the pleasure of Mr. Sinise visiting my AO…with that said he is the leader in giving back to the troops since Mr Hope.

    I had never known how Lt. Dan resonated with my older brothers and sisters of the VietNam era. I did not know if that role (not Mr. Sinise) was disdained or accepted positively until your words.

    While the USO has changed and Hollywood types like John Wayne and the like are a rarity now a days, just knowing there is at least one LT. Dan among the thousands of Baldwins is enough for me.

    May God bless you Mr. Sinise and God bless the mighty American military.

  6. Old Trooper says:

    @1: I think it has to do with entertainers in a combat zone, not actual military personnel.

  7. Rick says:

    Gary is a great man and Great American.

  8. MMX0311 says:

    During my in-country tenure with G/2/7 in 1966 two celebrities came out from the Chu Lai enclave to visit our battalion area; Martha Raye and John Wayne. I didn’t get to see Martha Raye, but John Wayne waded right in amongst us to shake hands and sign autographs. That was a memorable occasion.

    Kudos for Gary Sinise for all he’s doing today.

  9. Devtun says:

    Guessing John “I dock my yacht in Rhode Island” Kerry was reporting for duty and turned away at the door…

  10. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    Mr. Sinise is a great actor, and a great American, thanks Poetrooper for shining a light on very positive example of what Hollywood is capable of, instead of what we typically see coming out of that bastion of reprobates and miscreants….

  11. Outlaw13 says:

    @6 not to take away from the praise for the wonderful Mr. Sinise but here is the phrase I was referring to:

    “aw-shucks guy from the Midwest who has probably spent as much time in war zones as many members of our over-worked military, and certainly more than any Member of Congress.”

  12. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    Kudos to Mr. Sinise. If I might mention, country singer Toby Keith in know for entertaining the troops, in country. He has also done a number of songs honoring our service members.

  13. John Miska says:

    Gary always stops to say hello and get a poppy from us when we see him in DC….
    Great guy…

  14. David says:

    Y’all know that Gary Sinise is the narrator for the Army Strong commercials, right?

  15. Devtun says:

    Gary has wisdom to stay neutral on politics, and he refuses to get sucked into discussing hot button issues. He focuses on his craft as an actor, musician, and being an advocate for the military guys and gals.

    Gary’s body of work as listed on IMDB is just incredible – he’s a machine – the quintessential hardworking actor. I got really disgusted when Rachel Maddow from MSNBC took a dump on him around 2008, because GOP was expressing their love for Gary and in jest I think – talked about drafting him for VP on the Republican Ticket. Maddow tried to infer that Gary was “only” an actor and not really an A-lister at that-just OK/no great shakes. Gary just keeps it classy, refuses to be a political propaganda tool, and unconditionally supports (no bandwagoner) the guys and gals “over there”.

  16. DLM says:

    I’ve met Gary before and he really is a down to earth and sincere all around great guy.