NEW ORLEANS (June 24, 2015) — Actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise, along with his Gary Sinise Foundation, and The National WWII Museum are partnering to give a group of 55 Southern California veterans the opportunity to visit the Museum that honors their service. The veterans will arrive in New Orleans on June 24 to kick-off two days of exploring the Museum alongside Sinise.
The flight is part of the Soaring Valor initiative launched by the two organizations earlier this year in an effort to expand the Museum’s capacity to preserve the stories of our nation’s WWII veterans. Gary Sinise Foundation is financially supporting the effort, along with Foundation partner American Airlines who will be providing the flight. The Foundation will also fund a full-time historian to work with the Museum’s existing oral history outreach program to record the memories of WWII veterans—a population that is leaving us at a rapid rate.
“Sixteen million Americans served in World War II,” said Museum President and CEO Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller. “Today that number is less than a million. Every time we lose a veteran, it’s like losing a library. All of those memories and first-hand experiences are gone.”
Soaring Valor is an addition to the diverse array of initiatives implemented by the Foundation that serve and honor veterans, military families and first responders. The Foundation-funded historian will travel the country and continue to add to the Museum’s current library of nearly 8,000 oral histories. A valuable resource for both historians and Museum visitors alike, oral histories capture the “voice” of a person who actually experienced the WWII era. From these individual accounts, historians can often draw larger conclusions about historical eras, geographical areas and specific events.
“My uncle Jerry Sinise, who passed away years ago, was 18 years old on a ship in the Pacific during World War II, and my uncle Jack was a navigator on a B-17 Flying Fortress, flying 30 missions over Europe. He was a true inspiration in my life,” said Sinise. “When he passed away last year at the age of 90, it was comforting to know that his story was part of the Museum’s oral history collection, and that he had the opportunity to visit such a remarkable institution. I think other families deserve that, and through our educational program at the Gary Sinise Foundation, I’m thrilled to help make it happen for some of them.”
The veterans on the Soaring Valor flight will be treated to a welcome reception in the Museum’s US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center and a full-day of touring the campus. They will see the exclusive 4D film Beyond All Boundaries produced by Tom Hanks, visit the new Campaigns of Courage exhibit pavilion featuring Road to Berlin: European Theater Galleries, and see an active restoration of a WWII PT boat in the John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion. They will also enjoy a luncheon in the Stage Door Canteen, a 1940s-style entertainment venue, with the Museum’s Victory Belles performing.
Gary Sinise Foundation honors defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities. These include its R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence and Supporting Empowerment), whose flagship initiative is a specially adapted custom Smart Home building project for severely wounded veterans. Each home is customized to ease daily challenges and help restore independence with features like retractable cook tops, cabinets and shelving, elevators and more, all accessible via an iPad. The Gary Sinise Foundation is constructing these one-of-a-kind homes all across the country, each for a wounded hero, their caregivers and family. Other programs include Relief & Resiliency Outreach, Invincible Spirit Festivals, Serving Heroes and Arts & Entertainment Outreach. Over the years, the Foundation has formed numerous corporate partnerships including, the Carrington Companies, who donate and provide real estate development and construction management services to build the R.I.S.E. program’s Smart Homes. For more information, please visit GarySiniseFoundation.org.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world—why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America's National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, teamwork, optimism, courage, and sacrifice of the men and women who served on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or on Facebook.