Emmy Award-winning actor Gary Sinise made this Christmas season special for 1,750 children of Gold Star families and their relatives by sending them to Disney World. He did this as a part of the Snowball Express program with his veteran charity, The Gary Sinise Foundation.
The actor, long a supporter of American troops, weighed in on his good deed and spoke about why he feels it’s important to give back to military members and their families during an interview that aired Wednesday night on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”
Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo interviewed Sinise. The actor said he took pleasure in making Gold Star children happy, given what they have had to endure — losing a parent in combat.
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“It’s wonderful to see them smile,” said Sinise, 63. “That’s the whole thing for me, to make these kids happy and to let them know they’re loved and appreciated.”
“They get a lot of love and a lot of support,” he added. “It’s emotional for them, too, because they’re all thinking about the reason that they’re here. That’s why we do it in December. It is a tough time for a parent.”
While the families were in Disney World, Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band also performed; he has been playing music for the troops since 2007 through his Snowball Express program and takes pleasure in being able to do so.
“We show them that we remember, that we don’t forget,” Sinise said. “That can carry them into the next year like, ‘Hey, I’m important. I’m appreciated. It’s not being forgotten. I’m not alone, there are others.’”
Host Laura Ingraham reacted to video from the trip and praised Sinise for his actions.
“You see the children’s eyes. Every time I see one of these children in pain or a spouse in pain, I think of how blessed we are to live in this country,” she said. “I also am righteously angry at those who don’t appreciate and put on masks and insult Marines in public or worse, and [who]don’t appreciate all of the wonderful things in our country.”
Arroyo noted the strength of the Gold Star families as they endure the loss of a family member to military combat.
“These families and these kids carrying on, these are heroes despite the loss and it is a heavy burden to carry,” he said. “It’s also a reminder of the high costs of our freedoms. I was surprised to learn the high number of servicemembers who are plagued by PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] when they come home and the 20 veterans who commit suicide every day.”
Sinise has also shown his support for the military in other ways over the years.
His foundation has served more than 160,000 meals to veterans in the United States. It’s also developed about 70 smart homes, which allow wounded veterans to live independently.
Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band perform music for the troops around the country frequently; and in past years, this has included going on the USO Holiday Tour. Last year, he made the trip, which included stops in Iraq and Afghanistan less than one week before Christmas.
He is also the national spokesman for the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.
The memorial in Washington, D.C., honors the more than three million living disabled veterans in the United States.
Check out Raymond Arroyo’s interview with Gary Sinise below:
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, and other outlets.