Forrest Gump fans may remember him as Lt. Dan, the Vietnam War amputee and more recently he is known for his portrayal of detective Mac Taylor on CSI NY. In other circles, he is also known as a champion for the military and a talented performer.On Sept. 13, Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band are coming to Fayetteville and will perform in Festival Park, but this is more than just a concert.
On Sept. 9-10, prior to the concert, artist Scott Labaido will paint a large American Flag at Festival Park to say thanks to the beneficiaries of the event. Lobaido’s painting of the American flag hangs in the White House. The public is invited to come and cheer him on. Tickets will also be available on site.
“Scott has painted his flags all over the U.S., in each of the 50 states,” said Catherine Christman, event coordinator. “He is unbelievable to watch and he believes the American flag is the most beautiful thing ever.”
On Wednesday, Sept. 11, the Airborne & Special Operations Museum will host a ribbon cutting ceremony. The ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. and the public is invited to attend. The ribbon will be cut at 9:59 a.m. to coincide with the exact time that the first tower of the World Trade Center fell in 2001. Mayor Chavonne will be in attendance and the Cumberland Oratorio Singers will perform.
“We are going to go all over the country with our mobile 9/11 museum and want to remind people what it was all about,” said Christman. “The artifacts are on loan from New York City firehouses, which have honored us by loaning us these artifacts.”
The 9/11 Mobile Museum will be at ASOM Sept. 11-12 and will be on display at the concert on Sept. 13.
The event is part of a collaboration with the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation called Building for America’s Bravest. The foundation is named for firefighter Steven Siller, who on Sept. 11, 2001, ran through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel with 60 pounds of gear on his back to help in the crisis as the Twin Towers fell.
The Building for America’s Bravest program builds custom-designed smart homes for injured service members. The homes are energy efficient, easily accessible and use adaptive energy and they are built with the idea of empowering the inhabitants to live constructive and independent lives. Security systems, window treatments and other systems are powered by iPads.
Local heroes Master Sgt. John Masson and Staff Sgt. Thomas McRae, are each going to receive a smart home, and the Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band concert is a fundraiser to help make this happen. Even in the best of financial circumstances providing high-tech quality homes is an expensive endeavour no matter how noble the cause. The goal is to raise enough funds from concert ticket sales to provide Masson and McRae and their families. The Gary Sinise Foundation also aims to “serve as a vehicle to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities; which is at the core of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s mission.
Masson stepped on an IED during a village stability operation in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan in 2010. He lost both legs and his dominant arm in the explosion but still helped to treat his own wounds. Masson received the Purple Heart Medal and a second Bronze Star Medal from the incident.
Having already served three combat tours in Iraq, McRae was on his second tour in Afghanistan when he was injured in an IED explosion. He was on a foot patrol early last year when an IED exploded. He lost both legs, his left arm and suffered injury to his brain and eyes.
An award winning actor, director and musician, Sinise has been called a modern-day Bob Hope and has indeed served as a beacon of hope for many service members who have suffered injuries. The Gary Sinise Foundation partners with many programs and organizations to make sure that America’s finest, to include the military and first responders, receive the support they deserve.
For more information, visit the Gary Sinise Foundation at www.garysinisefoundation.org, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation at www.tunneltotowersfoundation.org and Building for America’s Bravest at ourbravest.org. The concert begins at 7 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at www.ltdanbandtickets.com.
Photo: Lt. Dan Band will play to support heroes like Master Sgt. John Masson and Staff Sgt. Thomas McRae pictured left.