Gary Sinise has played all kinds of tough cops, soldiers, and menacing bad guys in his impressive movie career.
But the Forrest Gump star couldn’t hold back his tears as he was surprised with a tribute to his charity work this week.
Sinise’s charity, the Gary Sinise Foundation, supports active duty military service members, veterans, first reponders, their families, their caregivers, and others who are in need.
As the face of his charity, Sinise, 63, has visited troops overseas a number of times. He said that his iconic role as the double amputee Vietnam War veteran, Lieutenant Dan, forged a strong connection between him and America’s veterans.
"He’s kind of played a bigger role in my life because of the nature of what that character was," Sinise told ET.
"He was a wounded, injured soldier, and I remember going into the first hospital to visit an injured soldier after Sept. 11, and all he wanted to talk about was Lieutenant Dan and what happened to Lieutenant Dan. So, that character has obviously been very special to me."
On Tuesday, to mark the release of Sinise’s new memoir Grateful American, veterans and his celebrity friends shared heartfelt messages thanking him for the great work he does.
(We have the video Sinise watched below, but to watch his emotional reaction you'll have to visit People.)
Sinise said he was "completely shocked and speechless" as stars including Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, and Kristin Chenoweth, and many, many more thanked him. Veterans, military families, and first responders who have benefited directly from Sinise’s charity work also expressed their gratitude.
Former Secretary of State General Colin Powell thanked the actor “for all the things you have done for our men and women who have served our nation.”
"Not only what you’ve done for them but for their children, what you’ve done for their families, what you’ve done to help them rebuild their lives."
One family posed in front of a home they had been given from Sinise Foundation’s RISE Program.
"As you can see we’re in front of this beautiful house right now," the veteran said. "We wouldn’t have had it were it not for your kindness, graciousness and your wonderful gift of giving."
The Gary Sinise Foundation asks social media users to share the video as part of their #GratefulLikeGary campaign, and to thank someone who made a difference in their life.