Fort Polk and the surrounding community are preparing for a special appearance by actor Gary Sinise and The Lt. Dan Band. The concert, free and open to the public, will be held on June 9 at HQ Field.
In an interview with the Leesville Daily Leader, Sinise expressed his excitement about returning to Fort Polk for the first time since 2004.
“I wanted to try to get back. Fort Polk was the first base that I played at with my band that was produced by USO World Headquarters in the states,” he said.“It was right after our first international USO tour for the troops, I wanted to bring some shows to the states.”
When Sinise saw an opening in his schedule, he contacted Fort Polk about coming back. “We had a blast the first time and I’m looking forward to coming back and giving everyone a good time.”
Concert-goers can expect a variety show that is designed for all ages to enjoy, Sinise said. The Lt. Dan Band plays an extensive catalogue of covers from classic to modern. “We play old songs, and new songs,” he said. “We have something for everybody.”
The event is sponsored by the Gary Sinise Foundation, which he started to help honor and support those who defend our freedom across the globe.
Sinise has a deep respect for the military. “I have a lot of veterans in my family, so I have a great support for veterans going back to my early days. After September 11th, I wanted to support our defenders.
“I wanted to lend my services to so many military charities. After working with these charities and learning from them I decided to start one myself.”
The Gary Sinise Foundation does many different things to support members of the armed forces. The foundation also makes it possible for the Lt. Dan Band to travel to military bases, both foreign and domestic, entertaining troops and boosting morale.
Sinise is especially proud of the work they do for military hospitals. “Creating a fun festival atmosphere for not only the wounded, but for the staff of these hospitals is something that I enjoy very much.”
Outside of entertainment, the Gary Sinise Foundation also builds homes for wounded veterans. The foundation arranges trips for World War II veterans to visit the National World War II Museum. During that time, their stories are recorded so they won’t be lost to history.
The foundation places high school students with the WWII veterans to learn about their sacrifice, and pass down wisdom from one generation to the next. “We want the youth to know what it takes to preserve freedom around the world.”
The dignity and well-being of veterans is something that Gary Sinise feels strongly about supporting. “The bottom line is that I know where my freedom comes from. I’m doing my part to make sure that they are not forgotten.”
Sinise famously portrayed the character Lt. Dan in the critically acclaimed Tom Hanks movie, Forrest Gump. The character is famous among generations of both soldiers and civilians.
Sinise explained why he believe the character still resonates with soldiers to this day. “It’s amazing how many times that movie has been seen. It’s a positive story about how a Vietnam veteran is actually ok in the end,” Sinise said. “Through a time when our veterans were treated very badly he retreated into the shadows.
“However, in the end we see that Lt. Dan ends up living a full rewarding life despite what he endured, and that’s what we want for all of our soldiers.”