There is nothing more important than helping the brave US servicemen and women.
Gary Sinise joined Maria Bartiromo to discuss the importance of helping our troops and what it means to be a Gold Star family.
Video (partial transcript below)
From the video above:
Maria Bartiromo: Welcome back. This Christmas there are more than 1.3 million brave servicemen and women of the US military on duty. Here at home as well as across the globe. Protecting our freedom and liberties. We salute them and we send our gratitude today and every day to all of them. Joining me right now is actor Gary Sinise who founded the Gary Sinise Foundation which honors all who serve in the US armed forces and their families. Gary, it is great to have you this Christmas weekend. Merry Christmas and thanks so much for what you’re doing. Tell us about your foundation.
Gary Sinise: Thanks so much for having me, Maria. Merry Christmas to you, Merry Christmas to all our troops around the world serving our first responders. The Gary Sinise Foundation is here to serve and honor the needs of the men and women who serve our country and I have been at this for a very long time the foundation is in its 12th year now. Years ago because of the veterans in my own family and getting involved with Vietnam veterans in the 80s and then playing lieutenant Dan in Forest Gump and starting to support first responders and military personnel after 9/11 I really got involved I eventually having started working with multiple non-profits across the country and trying to raise money for them and support them in different ways and the programs that they were supporting I started the Gary Sinise foundation. We launched in 2011 and now we’re in our 12th year. We support first responders, military personnel, veterans, gold star families, our wounded. We build homes for wounded. There are multiple programs at the Gary Sinise Foundation and it is all just to remember and honor and serve the men and women who keep us free. We can’t ever take that for granted. Freedom has to be fought for. There is a price to pay and people are willing to pay it. I benefit from that personally and want to do everything I can to support them.
Maria Bartiromo: I am so grateful for that. I am also a member of a gold star family. My uncle Pasquale Bartiromo lost his life in World War 2. Unfortunately, my family never got his remains back because he was blown up in Burma. He was an incredibly courageous man, he lost his life so young. They brought my grandmother obviously the American flag and we always remember what he did and how he did it. My entire family served in the military my grandfather Carmine was in World War 1, my father Vincent Bartiromo who passed away earlier this year he served in the Korean war, so it is really personal to me what you’re doing. I wear my father’s army tags on the air to honor him and all the work that he did in the Korean conflict but I got to tell ya Gary your performance as lieutenant Dan resonated with me so much. I was so grateful for that performance because it really brought us onto the reality of what so many of us have watched from our own families and friends. Do you take on roles like that because of your interest here because of your motivation to support our troops?
Gary Sinise: Well, you don’t often get to sign up and get the part I had to audition for it and everything but I will tell you that like you with so many veterans in my family going back to World War 1 and Vietnam and getting involved very specifically in the 80s with Vietnam veterans when the opportunity to play lieutenant Dan came along in the 90s having worked with Vietnam veterans and supported them over the years in the Chicago area I very much wanted to play that part.
One event the Sinise Foundation puts on is the “Snowball Express.”
This event flies Gold Star families to Disney World for the holidays.
One of the foundation’s most well-known events is called “Snowball Express,” where Gold Star families are flown to Walt Disney World to celebrate the holidays at the happiest place on Earth. This year, it took place in person for the first time since the pandemic.
“The Snowball Express initiative… is one of our Gold Star programs for the children of our fallen. That was started by a group of people that just wanted to help the kids out during a very difficult time for them, having lost a parent right before Christmastime,” Sinise said. “This year we were able to take them back to Disney World. We upped the number of families that we were able to take. And this year, I think we had 1,151 children and upwards of 1,900 people total there.”
“It cost a lot of money. It takes a lot of effort,” the actor continued. “Multiple volunteers, great corporate sponsors that come in, it’s just a massive event and really a great way to just wrap our arms around these kids that have lost a loved one in military service.”
Thank you to all the heroes who sacrificed to keep the United States free!
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