Letter from Hollywood – Gary Sinise

Letter from Hollywood

To all who serve our great country, 

As the current conflict rages on, and you continue to answer our nation’s call, I want you to know how very grateful I am for all you do.  This is our country, and throughout our history the freedom that we all share as Americans has been earned, and paid for, and sacrificed for by a courageous few.  You are the defenders of freedom throughout the world. The majority of us sleep soundly in the comfort of our homes at night, while a very, very small percentage stand watch around the globe, making sure that all Americans can continue to enjoy the liberty and freedom we have grown so accustomed to.  Whether you are on the front pages of our newspapers or not, you still continue to do difficult and dangerous work in dangerous environments and you do so voluntarily. 

As I have traveled to visit our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, The United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Guantanamo Bay, and all around the US, over and over again I have been awed by the men and women serving our country.  And while we can never do enough for our veterans and active duty service members, we can always try to do a little bit more to show our gratitude.  It is you, after all, who make it possible for us to go about our daily lives in peace and security here at home.  From our Vietnam days of turning our backs on our veterans, we learned that no matter whether we as a nation believe in the mission the government has set upon our military or not, our country’s service members are to be supported and cared for and thanked for all they do to serve our country.  And we, as citizens of the country you defend, can pick up the slack where the government leaves off.  We can serve those who serve for us.  And, there are many who are trying their best to give back to you.  I have lent a hand to dozens of grassroots organizations started by people who just simply want to help our troops and want to make sure you know that you are appreciated.  One such organization is Operation International Children.  www.operationinternationalchildren.org  It is a program that I started with author Laura Hillenbrand after my second trip to Iraq back in November of 2003 in order to support the troops from home by sending school supplies and other items for them to pass out to the children.  We now also ship to our troops in Afghanistan, the Philippines and Djibouti, our mission being to Help Soldiers Help Children. 

For many years, I have also had the amazing opportunity to support and entertain our troops overseas and here in the states with my band, The LT Dan Band.  In 2003 I began what has been a remarkable and rewarding association with the United Service Organization, the USO, in service to our active duty service members.  It’s a way to say Thank You and to help keep spirits high.  To serve those who serve us, and to give back something to our military families, has been among the most rewarding and fulfilling things that I have done in my life. 

It just simply feels that we, as Americans, are all in this together.  This is our country.  Someone has to do the difficult and dangerous work of fighting for it.  Like many, I was hit with a dose of reality when I watched those planes crash into those buildings, piloted by fanatics armed only with box cutters.  God help us if this fanatical enemy were to ever get hold of more dangerous weapons. 

And it is you, our war fighters, who are doing all you can to make sure it does not happen again. We are so fortunate to have people whose calling it is to dedicate themselves to military service.  Imagine a war, when only the other side showed up.  What would we, as a nation, do without men and women willing to stand on the fronts lines and defend our freedom and our way of life? Would we even have that way of life?  Or would we have someone else’s, imposed upon us?  So, thank you, to all of you who give so much. We all are in your debt. 

President Calvin Coolidge said, “A nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.”  I hope these “Letters from Hollywood” will help to let you know that your nation has not forgotten. 

God bless you all, for all you do to keep this country, and all its citizens, free. 

Your very grateful American friend, 

Gary Sinise