- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In town to serve as an honorary marshal of the National Memorial Day Parade, actor Gary Sinise stopped off at The Washington Times’ newsroom Monday for a lunch date with reporters and editors.

Referring to himself as a “humanitarian, not a political activist,” Mr. Sinise, who famously portrayed Lt. Dan in the Academy Award-winning film “Forrest Gump,” is the co-founder of Operation Iraqi Children, which delivers school supplies and toys to the young in the war zone. He also has entertained troops for the USO with his band, the Lt. Dan Band.

Mr. Sinise said that in addition to playing a wounded soldier in “Forrest Gump,” personal experience has bonded him with military families. Mr. Sinise has two brothers-in-law who are Vietnam veterans, and he said he learned firsthand about the plight of veterans when one of them waited until “about three years ago” to receive his military benefits.

Asked about the current war in Iraq and media coverage of it that some have called biased, Mr. Sinise declined to state his opinions, saying, “Don’t go there.” However, he did volunteer that he became so outraged over television reports concerning the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq that he called his publicist to get him on television “so I could show other pictures of the soldiers giving teddy bears to the Iraqi children.”

Though he explained he has no intention of running for office, partly because “I make a good living right now,” Mr. Sinise told us that Mac Taylor, his character on the hit show “CSI: NY,” wears his politics on his sleeve.

“He’s clearly a Reagan fan,” he said, referring to the picture of the late president that hangs on Mac’s wall. Mr. Sinise also pointed out that there are pictures of his character shaking hands with former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani on his desk.

“If you keep looking, you might see a lot more,” he said with a laugh about the political memorabilia on the set.

As for his co-star, Hill Harper, a campaign supporter and personal friend of President Obama’s, Mr. Sinise said the two check their politics at the door.

“I know where he is, and he knows where I am. We stay away from all that,” he said.

Speaking of co-stars, what does Mr. Sinise think of his most famous colleague, actress Angelina Jolie, who played his wife in the biopic “Wallace”?

“She has done a lot for refugees in Iraq. She’s a great gal.”

To contact Stephanie Green and Elizabeth Glover, e-mail [email protected]

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