By now, the Gary Sinise Foundation would have hosted World War II veterans from across the country on one of five Soaring Valor trips to the National WWII Museum. The Foundation's impactful trip invites veterans, their guardians, and high school students to share in this unique experience offered by our Community and Education program. During the trip, veterans recount their unforgettable stories and experiences during the war, providing the opportunity to pass them along to younger generations.
As a result of the novel coronavirus, the Foundation's initial plan to host five trips in 2020 came to a sudden halt. Fortunately for our veteran's, Gary Sinise and the Foundation had come up with a little surprise for our nation's Greatest Generation. In lieu of attending a Soaring Valor trip, veterans nationwide received a care package to lift their spirits and morale while staying safe at home.
Each package included:
• A personalized note from the Gary Sinise Foundation
• A personalized letter from the National WWII Museum
• A Gary Sinise Foundation hat
• 8 WWII-themed postcards
• U.S.A.-themed socks
• A Gary Sinise Foundation mug
• A 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle
• Gary Sinise's autobiography, Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service
• A deck of WWII-themed playing cards
• A Gary Sinise Foundation face mask
• A DVD of Bob Hope Entertaining the Troops
As packages began to hit mailboxes in mid-September, 93-year-old George Bryant, a veteran from Texas, was elated to receive his very own. Most years, George and his wife are frequent visitors of the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, where George volunteers at the 'I was there!' table, greeting visitors and sharing his service during the war.
George was among the last of the draftees to enter the Army in 1945 and be sent to Europe as World War II was nearing the end. He served with the 42nd Infantry Division in Linz and Salzburg, Austria. In 1952, he joined the Air Force and made a career of it, retiring in 1970.
In a letter written to the Foundation from George's wife Rebecca, she passes along George's gratitude, sharing what "a happy surprise and blessing this was to George. He has awed over, and studied, every single item, and is especially in love with the mask and hat, which we will wear nothing but now! George has a special heart for veterans of all ages and grieves over not being able to do more for them."
With more than 400 care packages being delivered, the Gary Sinise Foundation continues to do its part by honoring our nation’s veterans, defenders, first responders, their families, and those in need.
For more on Soaring Valor, click here.
Written by Savannah La Liberte