Theater icon, award-winning film and television star, and American patriot Gary Sinise shares the never-before-told story of his journey from trouble-making Chicago kid to cofounder of the legendary Steppenwolf Theater Company, world-famous actor, and tireless advocate for America’s active duty defenders, veterans, and first responders.
As a kid in suburban Chicago, Gary Sinise was more interested in sports and rock-n-roll than reading or schoolwork. But when he impulsively auditioned for a school production of "West Side Story," he found his purpose--or so it seemed. Within a few years Gary and a handful of friends created what became one of the most exciting and important new theater companies in America. From its home in a church basement in Highland Park, Illinois, the Steppenwolf Theatre launched a series of groundbreaking productions, igniting Gary's career along with those of John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, Dennis Farina, John Mahoney, and others. Television and film came calling soon after, and Gary starred in Of Mice and Men (which he directed) and The Stand before taking the role that would change his life in unforeseeable ways: Lieutenant Dan in the Academy Award-winning Forrest Gump.
The military community’s embrace of the character of the disabled veteran was matched only by the depth of Gary's realization that America's defenders had not received all the honor, respect, and gratitude their sacrifices deserve. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, this became Gary's mission. While starring in hits like Apollo 13, Ransom, Truman, George Wallace, CSI: NY, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Gary has worked tirelessly on behalf of those who serve this country, entertaining more than a half million troops around the world playing bass guitar with his Lieutenant Dan Band, raising funds on behalf of veterans, and eventually founding the Gary Sinise Foundation with a mission to serve and honor America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.
Grateful American is the moving, entertaining, profoundly gripping story of how one man found his calling: to see that those who defend this country and its freedoms are never forgotten.
“Gary Sinise writes as he lives, and as the artist and actor he has always been: with American authenticity, purpose, and a conviction that is inseparable from his nature.”
actor and filmmaker
“No entertainer alive today has visited and performed more for our troops at veteran’s hospitals and military bases all over the world than Gary Sinise. For years his foundation has built ‘smart homes’ for our troops that were severely wounded in combat. The book is called Grateful American, and I promise you after you read it you will be grateful for what Gary has accomplished and contributed to our country. He's truly one of a kind.”
actor, director, producer, and musician
“In my four years in the military, fifty years in show business, and over seventy years on this planet, I have never met a more dedicated American than Gary Sinise. Where does this kind of man come from and where did he get this boundless energy to accomplish so much and still put God, family, and our men and women in the armed forces above himself? Grateful American is an amazing story about a man who had a midlife ‘awakening.’ All who read this book will be grateful that such a man lived in our lifetime.”
actor, comedian, and entertainer
“Gary Sinise’s book is absolutely amazing and provides a clear roadmap of one man's journey to selfless service. He uses his personal story to highlight that journey and stirs us all to do the same. Gary is an inspiration to me and to everyone he comes in contact with—his life is the ultimate example of selfless service.”
Lieutenant General, US Army (Retired), author of Adapt or Die: Battle Tested Principles for Leaders and Work Hard, Pray Hard: The Power of Faith in Action
“For many years, I was a huge admirer of Gary Sinise’s work and the fact that when he was only eighteen he started the incredible theater company Steppenwolf. When I was a struggling actress in New York City, I saw him in terrific productions like True West, Balm in Gilead, and The Grapes of Wrath, and his incredible acting was an inspiration to me. Since then, though, Gary has become an inspiration for a completely different reason: he inspires me with who he is as a person. Gary Sinise quietly and consistently brings light and hope to people, serving his fellow man with an attitude of gratitude.”
actor, advocate, and three-time Emmy award-winner
“In singing the praises of Grateful American, I have the added advantage of having known the author for over forty years. This book is a reflection of someone for whom my admiration by itself would probably fill a book. In reading it you will discover why I’ve been blessed to have this exceptional man, husband, father, and patriot as my dear friend.”