Actor Works to Honor Disabled Vets

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"Lieutenant Dan" had a message for disabled veterans Friday: Within a few years, a national memorial will honor them permanently.
by Christine Grimaldi

WASHINGTON — Actor Gary Sinise, who received an Oscar nomination for portraying the crusty, double-amputee Vietnam veteran in the film Forrest Gump, said the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial has raised half of the $65 million needed for its completion. 

"Lending a hand to these brave men and women is truly one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done," said Sinise, the memorial's national spokesman.

"They don't ask much. Knowing they are not forgotten and that their sacrifice is appreciated can make a world of difference," Sinise said at a National Press Club luncheon.

Palm Beach County philanthropist Lois Pope co-founded and chairs the Disabled Veterans' LIFE Memorial Foundation, which funds site design, building and permanent maintenance.

Plans illustrate the 2-acre memorial adjacent to the National Mall and in view of the Capitol, its focal point a tree-lined, triangular reflecting pool with a five-point star situated in one corner. An eternal flame will burn in the middle of the star…

     

To help raise money for the memorial, Reps. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., and Mark Kirk, D-Ill., who also attended the luncheon, are sponsoring legislation to mint and sell commemorative silver coins.

Sinise, who currently stars on the CBS series CSI: NY, has played his bass guitar for American troops in Iraq with his "Lt. Dan Band" and is a co-founder of Operation Iraqi Children, through which school supplies are channeled to Iraqi children. He plans to perform in Iraq again in May.

Leaving politics aside, Sinise spoke extensively about the troops and the roughly 3 million permanently disabled American veterans. "One of the hard lessons we learned in Vietnam is how not to treat our service members," Sinise said.

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