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Book Review

Grateful American by Gary Sinise

Grateful American
by Gary Sinise

I’m late.

Which isn’t all that surprising, if you know me. Grateful American, by Gary Sinise, came out back in February. Mid-February! And now it’s late March. I’m late.

And yet, I doubt Mr. Sinise is upset with me. How do I know? First of all, I’m willing to admit, my review isn’t going to make, or break, his book. Or likely have any impact at all. But enough about my inadequacies as a blogger. Sinise is the type of guy who demands excellence, he also understands when someone is doing him a favor. As favors go, this one was my honor and privilege.

Book reviews are a strange thing. It’s often easier to write about a book I don’t like, than a book I do like. Let me just get this out of the way.

I like this book.

I like this book because it isn’t about Gary Sinise … it’s about Gary Sinise’s attitude.

Gary … can I call him Gary? It seems natural. Gary’s life starts out as an average American kid in the 60’s. He mostly grew up in Illinois and wanted to be a rock & roll star, or a baseball player. He did stupid kid things and lived to tell about it. And it was a high school theater teacher that set him on the road to acting.

And the rest is history…

Wait, wait, back up.

Early on, Gary starts up a theater company called Steppenwolf and a woman named Moira Harris is part of it. Their relationship reads a lot like a soap opera; dramatic blow-ups, on again / off again, wedding invitations go out and then she gets cold feet and leaves him. Two years later she walks back into his life and Gary, bless his heart, tries again. They’ve been married for 38 years! Sometimes, you just have to be patient, I guess.

This is barely a quarter of the book.

The rest of Gary’s story is unrelentingly tied to the United States Military. I say unrelenting because Gary is a guy who doesn’t quit. Early in his acting career, he was playing parts that showed a different side of the Viet Nam vet. The heroic side. It was his passion long before he was offered the role of Lieutenant Dan in Forest Gump. But when that role came up, he jumped at it.

And the rest is history …

Wait, sorry, backup. This is where Gary’s story, ceases to be just Gary’s story.

Playing Lieutenant Dan opened doors for Gary’s career, but more importantly, it opened a door in Gary’s heart that he was already prying.

Gary is grateful not just to be born in America, the land of opportunity. He’s grateful for the men and women who fight to keep it that way. They put their lives on the line for us every day and Gary does what he can to show his appreciation. Summarizing any of these stories, that make up the heart of the book, would be a disservice. And, frankly, I think Gary would be upset to know that this review is more about him than the men and women he chooses to serve.

There’s a lesson there for all of us.

It’s no wonder Gary’s marriage has lasted and it’s no wonder he’s dedicated his life to serving those on the line. It’s not about him. We could all stand to put others first a little more often and show some gratitude for what we’ve been given.

Before it’s too late.