Donna Miles / American Forces Press Service – 2005-08-20 23:57:29
Rumsfeld Praises Actor Gary Sinise for Troop SupportDonna Miles / American Forces Press Service
LOS ANGELES (August 5, 2005) – Each week the cast of “CSI: NY” uses scientific skill to solve mysteries. But the reason Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited the show’s set in Studio City here Aug. 4 was no mystery: actor Gary Sinise is a solid supporter of US servicemembers, and Rumsfeld’s a big fan of Sinise and his efforts.
Rumsfeld visited the CSI set to thank Sinise personally for his support of the “America Supports You” program through his “Operation Iraqi Children” effort. Rumsfeld visited the CSI set to thank Sinise personally for his support of the “America Supports You” program through his “Operation Iraqi Children” effort.
Sinise, who stars in “CSI: NY” as Detective Mac Taylor, co-founded Operation Iraqi Children with Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand in March 2004. The organization collects and ships school supplies and toys to Iraq for distribution by US troops, providing much-needed materials for Iraqi children while boosting the morale of the servicemembers who pass them out, Sinise said.
In addition, Sinise has made two visits to Iraq as part of USO shows and uses his rock group, “The Lt. Dan Band,” named after the character Sinise played in the movie, “Forest Gump,” to entertain the troops.
Rumsfeld praised Sinise’s efforts to the cast and crew of “CSI: NY,” who took a short break from shooting an episode during his visit.
The tides were temporarily turned on the set, as the show’s cast and crew gathered around Rumsfeld, shaking hands, snapping photos and asking for autographs, as they watched Rumsfeld and Sinise step into Sinise’s trailer for a private chat.
“I’ve never seen Gary so excited,” said Anthony E. Zuiker, creator of the CSI franchise and executive producer of “CSI: NY.”
“This man is such a patriot and loves his country so much,” Zuiker said.
So much so, Zuiker said, that he always knows the perfect gift to give Sinise for his birthday or any other special occasion: a check for his Operation Iraqi Children effort.
Rumsfeld, who joked with Sinise about going to rival high schools in Chicago, told the cast about “all the wonderful things this man has done for the men and women in uniform across the country.” He thanked Sinise for his personal involvement in supporting the troops and presented him with a commemorative Pentagon paperweight and official secretary of defense coin to add to Sinise’s extensive coin collection gathered during troop visits.
The secretary also shared Sinise’s hopes of expanding the program into Afghanistan as well as Iraq.
Sinise told the American Forces Press Service he feels honored to be doing his part of help the troops. “They need us out there,” he said. “We’re blessed in this country to have an all-volunteer service, not a mandatory service. And I feel obligated to support them as they keep very, very busy on several fronts.”
A message from co-founder Gary Sinise
“Operation Iraqi Children is a wonderful way for the people of the US to help the children of Iraq and by doing so we are helping our soldiers who are working so hard over there. It will promote goodwill between our two peoples and help in the rebuilding effort there. I started a project to send school supplies to Iraq because I saw a tremendous need for them when I visited one of the schools and became aware that this was the norm for most of the schools in Iraq. I also saw a beautiful interaction between our soldiers and the Iraqi children.
The kids I saw on my second trip to Iraq with Wayne Newton in November of 2003 were loving our soldiers and so grateful to them for having liberated them from Saddam Hussein. It was a tremendous feeling to see these children hugging and kissing our soldiers, cheering them with the thumbs up sign and in broken English saying, “I love you!”
They were so welcoming of us and it was a great moment when the principal took us into his office, a room that was no bigger then a janitor’s closet, and there on the wall was a plaque that was dedicated to the Coalition Forces for giving them their freedom. He had it made especially to thank the soldiers who had helped to rebuild his school. And this was not much of a school compared to the schools here in the US, believe me. But it was so much better than what they had before our soldiers got there.”
ORGANIZING AN EFFORT:
Get the word out! Print flyers explaining the mission of this collaborative project and asking students, parents, and organization members to participate. Set a deadline for the collection of materials and include the Kit assembly instructions below. Establish a central collection area where items will be sorted, boxed and labeled. Ask that donors bring in tape and sturdy shipping boxes. Banana boxes, available from your local grocery, or paper boxes from an office supply store or your school both work well.
Thanks to our new alliance with FedEx and People to People
Operation Iraqi Children Celebrates 1-Year Anniversary!
To date, over 200,000 school kits have been sent to Iraq! From Kansas City to Iraq, the work of OIC would not be possible without the help and support of all those who have been involved in some way. Thank You!