Gary Sinise pens memoir about his dedication to American troops

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Actor, Steppenwolf co-founder, musician, humanitarian and now, author. Blue Island-born Gary Sinise has penned his memoir "Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service."

"Here we are at Steppenwolf Theatre, but this began with a bunch of kids just who wanted to do plays, and now it has been around 45 years. It's an interesting section of the book when I document some of that. And it all ended up into this full-time service mission," Sinise said.

That mission is honoring and working with military vets, first responders and their families. Some think it was his portrayal of Lieutenant Dan in "Forrest Gump" that spurred him, but that's not the case.

"I ended up working with Vietnam veterans in the early days of Steppenwolf. We started a program back then that still exists today called "Vets Night" and every single one of our plays we provide a free dress rehearsal performance to veterans, and now my foundation sponsors that event," Sinise said.

It's been almost 20 years since Sinise has performed on the Steppenwolf stage. It all started in a high school hallway, with a drama teacher telling him to go audition for the school musical.

"It's like Forrest Gump. You know when that little feather is floating around, it lands here and it lands there. If it lands over here you might go that way, if it lands over there you might go that way. I'm just lucky I was standing in that hallway at the time," Sinise said. "I'm trying to tell people what is was like in the book to go from obscurity and anonymity to all of a sudden walking into the Starbucks and have people scream Lieutenant Dan at me. Next thing I know, I'm sitting at the Oscars."

At Steppenwolf Monday night, fellow founding member Jeff Perry will conduct a candid conversation with Sinise. The first event is sold out, but a 9 p.m. has been added and tickets are still available.
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