Gary Sinise on his childhood, acting and supporting veterans

This is a rush transcript from "Life, Liberty & Levin," May 13, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARK LEVIN, HOST: Hello, America. I'm Mark Levin. This is "Life, Liberty & Levin." I have a wonderful guest tonight. Gary Sinise, how are you, my friend?

GARY SINISE, ACTOR AND ACTIVST: I'm good, Mark, thanks for having me.

LEVINE: I haven't seen you in like five or six years. It's been something like that, hasn't it.

SENISE: It's been awhile.

LEVINE: Yes, I wanted to bring you out here, I mean, Memorial Day is not that far from now, and you do this magnificent program every year except for last year when your daughter had a baby, and that is the National Memorial Day Concert. I don't miss it.

And I want to get into these other things that you are doing, too, and your acting career because to me, you are kind of unusual for Hollywood because you're an exceptional patriot, like super patriot, and by that, I mean, you are involved in veterans' activities. In fact, you're involved in so many veterans' activities, I can't keep count of them.

And I was studying this over the weekend, just so you know, over the last weekend. So, let's get started with.

First of all, a little bit about your background. You grew up in Chicago?

SENISE: Yes, I was born on the south side of Chicago in a town called Blue Island, which is kind of south, south side of Chicago, and then I moved eventually, when I was nine, just after the Kennedy assassination, I remember.

I remember that very, very well, I was in about third grade when that happened, and the following year in 1964, we moved up to Highland Park which is a northern suburb of Chicago. It's about 25 miles north of Chicago. That's where I went to high school. That's where I started acting in high school plays.

LEVINE: But before you started acting, what kind of a kid were you?

SENISE: Well...

LEVINE: A little rough?

SENISE: Yes, I think - I think some of the moves that we made early on because we moved - we moved when I was nine or ten years old, then we moved again when I was in seventh grade, then we moved again right after freshman year. There were certain moves I think, it's disorienting for a kid to you know, kind of get embedded with a certain group of friends and then get displaced and have to make new friends and all of that.

So, I had a little trouble. Plus, I might have been diagnosed with some sort of learning disability back then, if they kind of were doing that because I had a hard time reading, I had a hard time writing, so academics were always a struggle for me.

I was kind of the day dreamer kid, you know? There's always some, and I was always doing that. I loved sports. I got into music when I was in fourth grade, I started playing guitar. That's what I wanted to do.

LEVINE: You went right from high school and you never went to college.


LEVINE: How did you go from high school into acting? That's not an easy thing to do.

SENISE: Well, I started acting in high school. I was playing in a rock band in high school and I was standing in the hallway and the drama teacher walked down the hall and she turned around and said, "I'm directing 'West Side Story,' and you guys look like gang members, so come and audition."

So I went in. You know, I thought, "Well, let's go see what this is about." So, I went to the audition. There were a lot of pretty girls going in, so I followed them in, and I didn't know what an audition was. They gave me a script and I started stumbling through it.

It was funny what I was doing, I was getting laughs from everybody and I got cast in the play. And I fell in love with the play and theater, and you know, I was really struggling in school, so I was having a hard time in school, and yet I found this thing that I could do, and that I really enjoyed doing.

So from that moment on, I just wanted to be in plays all the time. And I auditioned for them, and I was playing music and I would get in the plays, and after high school, incidentally I didn't have enough credits to graduate with my class.

I had to go back to high school and graduate with the following class because I wasn't doing well, but I was good at acting. And when I got out of high school, I started a theater company with some of the kids there. It's called Steppenwolf Theatre, it's been around for almost 45 years now.

It's grown into something that's like a Chicago institution, and we've been all over the world. We've had a lot of success and it all started with kids, you know, in Highland Park who just wanted to do plays.

LEVINE: What was your first big break? When did that come?

SENISE: You know, it depends. There were a series of them. One of the things that kind of helped to move Steppenwolf Theatre, my theater company from kind of a local, Chicago-based company, that was only known there to a nationally recognized company was when we moved one of our plays from Chicago to New York, and we did it off Broadway, it was a play called, "True West." John Malkovich was in it. I was in it. I directed it.

It was a big hit in New York, it ran for two years. We did it for six months, but all of a sudden Steppenwolf went from this local theater in Chicago to this internationally recognized theater, because when you go to New York and you do a play, you get reviewed by the "New York Times," and all kinds of international publications, so all of a sudden, we went from something small to something a little bit bigger, and I was recognized as somebody who can direct and - you know, that started the next series of events for us, but then I went out to California eventually.

LEVINE: And the rest is history. Let me ask you about this. I don't even know if this is a fair question. What is your favorite movie that you were in? Everybody knows your main movies, but what would you say, for you, the most challenging role, the most fulfilling role.

SENISE: Well, fulfilling - there's a bunch of them.

LEVINE: I'll give you mine, one of mine.


LEVINE: And this is almost counterintuitive because you know I'm pro-cop, and so, "Ransom." You scared the hell out of me in that movie.

SENISE: The cop run amok.

LEVINE: The cop run amok, I mean, that was a scary movie.

SENISE: Yes, and that was a good one, it was really, really well directed by Ron Howard, a very tense thriller.

I originally did not want to play that part. Ron asked me to do it, and I just couldn't see myself doing it. I had small children, it's about a guy who takes a child, and I just hated the character when I read it, so I kind of passed on it and then, it came around again and I took it, and then it was - you know, it's fun to be evil, you know, it's fun to be the bad guy, and of course, I get paid back in the end of the movie. But that was a good one certainly.

I think Forrest Gump was a life changing film in many ways, veterans, work, and just - I hadn't done that many movies when I did that.

LEVINE: You hit a point right there. You are so active now in the veterans movement, but not just that - police, firefighters, public safety. Forrest Gump really was a turning point for you in that respect, wasn't it?

SENISE: Well, it was something that led me to begin to support our wounded veterans, because I was playing the wounded veteran. Prior to that, I had been supporting Vietnam veterans, going back to the '80s, I had Vietnam veterans in my family, I got involved with Vietnam veterans back in the mid '80s in the Chicago area supporting them locally, and this was at a time that was very difficult for our Vietnam veterans.

The wall was put up in 1982. We started to have some Welcome Home parades and things like that around 1984 and '85, but our Vietnam veterans were living in the shadows. They were still struggling. They were still having difficulty and I started to support them locally in Chicago, and in the '90s, I got to play the Vietnam veteran, and he was a wounded soldier and he led me to start working with the disabled American Veterans Organization back in '94.

So, Forrest Gump was certainly a very, very good role to play in many ways. I think, If you ask me again what some of the most challenging stuff? I played the Governor of Alabama, George Wallace in a TNT television film directed by John Frankenheimer back in 1997 and that was probably the biggest role that I had done, certainly probably to date.

It was over a three-hour, two-night mini-series and it took about 20 years of his life. Angelina was a young actress at that time. She was 21 when she was in that, Angelina Jolie.

LEVINE: But you remember that role.

SENISE: Nobody knew who she was.

LEVINE: You remember that role.

SENISE: George Wallace?

LEVINE: Why do you remember that role?

SENISE: Well, because - I think I was in every single frame of the movie almost. I mean, it was a movie called "George Wallace" and I was playing George Wallace, so it was very much - in Forrest Gump, for example, I'm in the movie for maybe 20 minutes or something like that, there's maybe 25 minutes, there's four or five segments that are Lieutenant Dan, but there's a big, big story of all these other people in Forrest Gump.

George Wallace and Harry Truman, I played Harry Truman as well in an HBO movie. Those movies were focused on that character and I had to carry those films in a way that a supporting character like Lieutenant Dan or even "Ransom," does not have to do.

"Ransom" was starring Mel Gibson. He was carrying the movie. Both "Truman" and "Wallace" were movies that relied heavily on performance and I had to really step up.

LEVINE: And you've pretty much moved on to what is your passion - the troops, the police, the firefighters, the vets. Before we get into that, does that mean you're forever abandoning acting?

SENISE: No, no, I can't say that. I'm going to do a small part this summer in a film that our directors do and that I have wanted to work with, very small part. But it's in Hawaii, so I am going to go there.

LEVINE: Do you have another part? I'll come with you. But your real focus now is on the other, correct?


LEVINE: And you - is that a determination you made or this just sort of came about or at some point of your life you said, "You know what? I really want to focus on my foundational activity and so forth and so on, and I can do a little bit of acting, but I can't do a whole lot of both?"

SENISE: Well, there's a blessing that I've had which is some success in the movie business and television business. I was on television on two television series, one for nine years, the other for two years - that's 11 years on television, and that put me in a different place in terms of what I could do both financially to support our men and women in uniform, and time-wise.

I can afford to take that time to go out and do these types of things, because I owned a piece of that show. "CSI New York," so I did well on it. And it came at a time where I was just - you know, it was post September 11th and I just started to ramp up activities in terms of how I could support the men and women deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq and what I wanted to do to help them through those difficult times, and then things just got harder and harder for them.

As the conflict in Iraq took a turn, you know, not in the direction that we wanted it to. Our men and women were caught in there and they needed some support, and I wanted to make sure they got the support they needed, unlike what happened to our Vietnam veterans when they got caught in the political muck of that particular conflict, and they suffered.

And having Vietnam veterans in my family and having been involved with Vietnam veterans over the years, I did not want to see that happen to this post-9/11 generation of warriors, that was going over in reaction to what had happened on that terrible day.

So, I wanted to support them with everything I had, and it just turned into a full-time commitment and passion to do what I can to help them through.

LEVINE: And I want to get into this with you in just a moment. Folks, don't forget, every week night, you can watch LevinTV, LevinTV on,

Join our community there. Just gives us a call, 844-LEVIN-TV, 844-LEVIN- TV.

Gary Sinise, let me ask you a couple of questions. It's hard not to ask you some of these questions. National anthem - it's been kind of controversial, I don't know why. What is your take on that? The sporting events, the controversy and so forth. Just your personal take.

SENISE: Well, you know, this is a free country, so sometimes things happen that we don't all agree with. I don't happen to agree with taking a knee and all that. I know too many ghosts in our families whose loved ones' coffins were draped with that flag, and when we sing the national anthem, we're supposed to face the flag, put our hand over our heart and that flag represents something very powerful to the men and women who serve our country.

So in respect - out of respect for them and those who fight to protect that flag and what that flag represents, I stand up, and I put my hand over my heart. If somebody wants to not do that, well, I don't happen to agree with it, but it's a free country.

LEVINE: Your activities, your patriotism, has that affected you in Hollywood in terms of - in the sense of getting roles or friendships or anything of that sort?

SENISE: No. Well, not that I know of. Right now, I'm out of work, so I had a television series that I finished, "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders," finished up December of 2016. I must say, I haven't been very heavily and actively involved in trying to get that next job because I've been so focused on supporting the men and women who serve our country, and doing the work of my foundation.

So you know, I'm doing a little bit of sitting back and waiting to see if something comes along that's going to be interesting to work on. As I said, I'm going to go do six days on a film this summer, but right now, the work that I'm doing is so satisfying and so rewarding, and it's a blessing to serve, and the grace that I have in having the financial security and ability to take that time to devote to this is something very, very special that it might take something very special to have me go back to work.

I'm not saying I'm not going to go act again because I do like it and I'm glad they could make a living at it, but I'm very satisfied at where that acting career has taken me.

LEVINE: Let me read you parts of a letter. This is from Jess to Melissa. April 22, 2003. He says to his wife, "Please only read if I don't come home. Please put it away and hopefully you will never have to read it." He was in Iraq. And in part he says, "My family, I never thought I would be writing a letter like this. I really don't know where to start. I've been getting bad feelings though, and well, if you're reading this, I am forever indebted to you, Dakota, and the Bean..." his son. "... I searched all my life for a dream and found it in you. I would like to think I made a positive difference in your lives. I will never make up for the bad, I am so sorry. The happiest moments of life all deal with my little family. I will always have with me the small moments we all share."

And near the end, he says, "I've never been so blessed as the day I met Melissa Dawn Banfield," his wife. " are my angel, soul mate, wife, lover, best friend. I'm so sorry. I did not want to have write this letter. There is so much more I need to say, so much more I need to share. A lifetime's worth. I married you for a lifetimes, that's how long I will be with you. Please keep our babies safe. Please, find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving you alone. Take care of yourself, believe in yourself. You're a strong, big hearted woman. Teach our babies to live life to its fullest. Tell yourself to do the same. Don't forget to take Toad to Disney World. I will be with you, Melissa. I always want you, need you, love you, in my heart, mind and soul."

That letter had a huge impact on you. He didn't come home?

SENISE: No. No. And it was kind of the catalyst to get something started that has lasted now for 12 years, called Snowball Express, which started in Anaheim, where a few folks wanted to honor that request to take that family to Disney, and it turned into about 800 families that first year who had lost a loved one.

Then there was a second year and a third year in Anaheim. American Airlines got very, very heavily involved to fly these families to Disneyland in Anaheim. I got involved the second year. This was 2006, the first year that this was done, 2007 I got involved, brought my band there, had been involved ever since.

We moved it from Anaheim to Dallas because that is the hub of American Airlines and American was ramping up their sponsorship, flying all these children to this event. I mean they donate 12 airplanes to fly the kids from all around the country to this event, and it's turned into about 1,400 to 1,500 kids every year. It was in Dallas for nine years and just recently Snowball, which was its own 501-c3 organization has now been folded into the Gary Sinise Foundation as a program, and we just announced recently our relationship with Disney World.

We're going from Dallas and we're going to bring the kids to Disney World this December. So, it's obviously - it's going to cost a little more money. We have a lot of money to raise at the Gary Sinise Foundation to make sure that we can bring these kids, but it's not just the fun. It's the healing that happens between the children when they are there altogether in a group.

Fifteen hundred kids. They've all lost one of their parents in the war, in military service, and they come together and they're all going through the same thing. They don't feel like they're struggling alone. They don't feel like they're the only ones this is happening to. They're among all these other children.

Some of them have lost a parent eight years ago or nine years ago. Others maybe they just lost a parent six months ago. And they come to this event and the older children wrap their arms around the younger children and there's hundreds of volunteers, and the healing that happens and the positive energy that happens when we bring these kids together and give them an environment of love and fun is significant. It's huge.

We can't forget these unsung heroes that we have who have given up so much. And so, every year, we're going to continue to take care of these kids. We need extra money to do it. You can go to to learn more about Snowball Express and what we're trying to do for these gold star children.

LEVINE: When we come back, I want to know more about the Gary Sinise Foundation. This is just a little piece of it. What we can do to help? We'll be right back.

MARIANNE RAFFERTY, CORRESPONDENT, FOX NEWS: Live from America's News Headquarters, I am Marianne Rafferty. New volcanic fissures on Hawaii's big island forcing more residents from home Sunday.

The US Geological Survey reporting nearly 20 active fissures, the newest measuring about a thousand feet long. So far, some two dozen homes have been destroyed and nearly 2,000 people evacuated.

Geologists say the volcanic activity is likely to continue and they warn of a potentially large eruption in the near future.

And French police questioning three people in the wake of Saturday's deadly terror attack in Paris. Police detaining the parents and a friend of the knife-wielding attacker. Investigators also searching the parents' home. The suspect was shot dead by police after killing one person and wounding four others. ISIS quickly claimed the responsibility for the attack.

I'm Marianne Rafferty, now back to "Life, Liberty & Levin"

LEVINE: Welcome back. The Gary Sinise Foundation, we hear about the Gary Sinise Foundation, but it has a lot of aspects to it, doesn't it? What is the Gary Sinise Foundation?

SENISE: Well, as I said, there's a series of steps that led to the creation of the foundation. There's military in my family, on my side of the family. I've got my grandfather served in World War I a hundred years ago in France during the Battle of the Argon.

And he had three sons, two of my dad's older brothers both served in World War II. One was a navigator in a B-17 bomber over Europe, the other was on a ship in the Pacific during World War II. My dad served in the Navy. Then, I met my wife, married her, her two brothers served in Vietnam. Her sister was in the Army. Her sister married a Vietnam veteran, who was a combat medic in the Army. They had a son who has served two deployments in Afghanistan. So lots of veterans around me. That's where the veteran work began.

Then I got involved with Vietnam veterans and supporting them in the 80s, played the guy in the '90s. After September 11th though, you know, those seeds had been planted for supporting the men and women deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. So, I just raised my hand. Went out for the USO, started doing that kind of thing, and then, I just started reaching out to military charities all over the place and trying to raise money for them in different ways.

Played concerts with my band, raised awareness by doing PSA's, whatever I can do to raise money and awareness for these other organizations so that they could help more of our troops, I was trying to do, and all that manifested itself into the eventual creation of my own foundation.

Having been involved in so many different things, Gold Star Family initiatives, supporting our wounded, resiliency events, entertainment through the USO, all of these different things. I wanted the foundation to kind of reflect all that history.

So, we have several programs at my foundation that cover a lot of different territory, a I mentioned Snowball Express, which is focused on our Gold Star families, the families of our fallen and trying to help them through their grief. Then we have a program called RISE - Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment.

That is all about providing special smart technology housing for very, very badly wounded service members. I understand you've met Travis Mills. Travis is an Ambassador for my foundation. Quadruple amputee, we built a house for him in Maine. He's a resilient guy among many extraordinary people that I have met.

We've done between 60 and 70 houses already from the beginning of when I started doing it to now. We have supportive programs called Serving Heroes, which send messages out to USOs and VA's all over the country, by providing food and entertainment for the veterans that are either coming through a travel hub or maybe living in a VA or something like that. We don't want them to be forgotten. That's the important thing.

I always remember that great quote by Calvin Coolidge, "The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten." We do not want to ever want to forget our defenders. That's one of the thing I learned from my Vietnam experience, working with Vietnam veterans all those years ago. We did forget our defenders at that time and it weakened our nation, it was a shameful period in our history and can never let that happen again.

LEVINE: How do you raise money for this foundation?

SENISE: Well, I do a lot of different fundraisers. We have - we went from one donor in the beginning to over 40,000 donors now. We are approaching the beginning of our eighth year, on June 30th, coming up. That will be our eighth year anniversary.

So it's a fairly young foundation, but we've grown significantly. We have a lot of programs. I am very boots on the ground participating daily in what the foundation does. We've gone from a couple of people in the beginning. My executive director and me to almost 30 people that work for the foundation, to help support our fundraising, our events activities, our awareness-raising campaigns, all the different things that we're trying to do to keep people focused on these freedom providers. We can never take for granted what they do for us.

SENISE: And you give concerts now and then, your band, is that correct?

SENISE: Well, my is something - you know, I started doing USO tours, I would just go overseas and shake hands and take pictures and just sit down with the troops like this and have lunch with them and I just wanted them to know that somebody from the entertainment business, you know, who they saw on television or movies, was thinking about them, and came over there to say thanks and to make sure that they were, you know, felt appreciated, and supported.

And then I got the USO to let me take some musicians on the tour, and I had played music as a kid and picked it up again in the late '90s, then after September 11th, I had some musicians I had played with.

The reason I call it the Lieutenant Dan band, is because in the beginning, nobody really knew who Gary Sinise was. They all knew Lieutenant Dan, so I just the band Lieutenant Dan band.

When I started my foundation, I used to fund the band myself or ask friends to give me money so I could go on a USO tour or whatever, because I pay the band. This is my mission, I do it for free, I have to take care of my band members.

When I started my foundation, we folded Gary Sinise and the Lieutenant Dan band into the foundation as a program. So much like the USO, when you donated to the USO, the USO takes that money and they provide entertainment to our troops all around the world and everything like that.

It's the same thing that the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Lieutenant Dan band. You donate to the Gary Sinise Foundation.

LEVINE: Well, let me ask you about that. So, if people want to support the Gary Sinise Foundation, where do they go?

SENISE: Well, you go to

LEVINE: dot org?

SENISE: Yes, that's our foundation website and you can look at the program page and see the programs. You can go to the YouTube channel and see dozens of great videos on there that will show what you we're doing all around the country. I'm doing it but one of the reasons I created the foundation is because I'm only one guy and I can only be so many places and I wanted to ramp up my activities.

I wanted - even if I couldn't be there physically to support, we're doing events, it's the Gary Sinise Foundation. They know they're getting a message from me that we care about them and appreciate them and we're sending our support their way. And we do that through the generosity of the American people that support us because they want to help our troops.

LEVINE: And I hope this audience would do exactly that. When we come back, there was a spat for a period of time of really awful movies, anti- military and so forth and so on. I want to ask you about that, when we return.

Don't forget, you can watch LevinTV, me, every week night at, or give us a call and join us 844-LEVIN-TV, 844-LEVIN-TV.

Gary Sinise, I don't it's think me, I just think there was a period of time we had some pretty - a long list of very negative movies, really about the military, even about the country. Certain battles, am I wrong about that?

SENISE: No. No, I remember clearly in the early days of the Iraq War when things were getting very difficult, yes, there were some films that were pretty hard on the military, I think.

And, you know, in reaction to that, some friends of mine started something called the GI Film festival. What they found, they found the same thing that you did. There was just a lot of content coming out of the industry that kind of was a bit harsh on the warriors and what they wanted to do was provide a forum to highlight films that were sort of - celebrated military service, and they started something called the GI Film festival, this was back - it's 12 years ago now, I think.

They were just starting out, they wanted to highlight positive films portraying the military in a positive light and they invited me to come, they wanted to present me with an award for playing Lieutenant Dan. So, I came to the festival that first year, they had - you know, they had some submissions for their festival. They were just getting started, but it wasn't a lot, you know, of submissions to be in the festival from filmmakers that were making movies about, you know, heroism and courage and patriotism, all those things and the military service in a positive way.

Now, after 10 or 12 years, they get hundreds of submissions. It's really grown into a very, very positive thing, they not only do a major festival here that lasts about a week, little less than a week, but they do an event in San Diego and you know, got a great website, GI Film Festival. You can look that up.

This year, I'm going to be there for the Congressional opening. They do a thing on May 23rd. It will be sort of a Congressional reception highlighting, launching the festival for that year.

LEVINE: Does it seem to be making a difference?

SENISE: Yes, I think so. There have been a lot of great movies that have come out of the festival, and you know what? This was during, it was during the George Bush years, my industry was very critical of President Bush in terms of the Iraq War and what was happening, and some of the filmmakers were making some films back then.

LEVINE: Assassination films, even.

SENISE: Well, I never saw that one.

LEVINE: I didn't either. I know it was out there.

SENISE: Yes, I don't know anything about that one. I just remember some of the industry was putting out some movies that were a little bit, you know, where the soldier looked like a victim, you know? And in more recent years, they've highlighted a few, more heroic-type individuals like Chris Kyle and his story and the tragic thing that happened to him, but he was a brave Navy Seal, and lone survivor.

Peter Burg did a great movie with Mark Wahlberg about Marcus Luttrell and what happened with Operation Red Wing. So, you know, there have been you know, other types of films in recent memory that have been a little bit different for that.

But I would encourage people to check out the GI Film Festival, and their movies are focused on military families and what they go through and how we can support them.

In fact, I produced - I was the executive producer on a documentary the second year called "Brothers At War" that was made by a brother of two soldiers who somehow got embedded, I don't know how he did it, but he got embedded over in Iraq with the troops and he wanted to see what his brothers were doing and he made a movie called "Brothers At War" and it won the best documentary feature that year and he's actually doing a look back now, he's doing a fund-raising campaign, and he's going to kind of look at brothers at war and the people that were featured in it ten years later in follow up.

LEVINE: It's great that there is this creative pushback because it was very much necessary. We'll be right back.

Welcome back. You're from Chicago, the murder rate in Chicago has gone through the roof, Federal official shot in the head there the other week. I mean, is there a particular environment to Chicago, or is it something we're seeing in other cities, a disrespect for law enforcement, disrespect for life? What do you make of this?

SENISE: I don't know, it's terribly sad. I mean, certainly, I think - what was it? I saw a statistic today about like 50 shootings or something like that just within the last couple of days or something, that's worse than Kabul, you know? When you think about it.

I don't know enough about the political scene in Chicago or why they can't get this murder rate down, why there are so many shootings? Why there are so many guns in the hands of the wrong people there? Why they can't go into these areas and change that? Why there hasn't been a focus by certain leaders to go to Chicago and try to change that.

LEVINE: You think there's been a disrespect for law enforcement? Over a period of time, you see things like this happening in Baltimore, too, and other cities?

SENISE: Well, sure, you know, I am in the sort of support your first responders mission. So, you know, like our military who are put in harm's way, you know, in war zones and have to deal with the consequences of being in those war zones and being in harm's way, we try to put our hands on police officers and firefighters as well who go into harm's way.

We have unfortunately, in St. Louis, for example, we recently built a home for a police officer there who pulled somebody over, routine traffic stop, walked up to him, checked his license, got his license, walked back to his police car, and was going to call in the license, and while he was walking back away from the car, the guy got out of the car and put a gun in his neck and shot him, and he's paralyzed from the neck done.

His name is Michael Flamion. Michael is now in a specially designed smart technology home that we helped to build for him there in St. Louis. There's another police officer that we're about to build for that was shot in the head.

LEVINE: You're the man on the ground, do you feel like there's more and more of this taking place?

SENISE: It seems so, you know, it seems so. I mean, it's a dangerous business. You put on the uniform, you get in your car, you drive around waiting for trouble. You know, that's why we're waiting for the call where there's trouble, you know, and then you go in and try to deal with it. So, it's a dangerous business, you know, it's a dangerous business. You see this in certain areas, obviously, it's more dangerous than other areas, you know.

LEVINE: We'll be right back.

Gary Sinise, is the nation more patriotic? Less patriotic? Which direction do you think we're heading in with respect to patriotism?

SENISE: Well, it may depend on what circles you are in. I mean, I'm in the military community a lot and I find a lot of great patriots in the military community. There is no question about it. It's an infectious community to be a part of.

Some of my best friends are in the military. They have deep respect and love for this country. They are willing to give their lives for it and that is what they know they are signing up for. I have great respect for that and great respect for my country.

This is a wonderful country to be a part of. When you go around the world, you stand in the war zones and you stand in places that don't really understand what freedom is, the border between North and South Korea, you've got freedom on one side, you've got slavery on the other side, you really value your freedom providers all that much more, you value your country and what your country gives you that much more. That is one of the reasons I am so actively involved in supporting them.

LEVINE: It has been a great honor.

SINISE: Thank you.

LEVINE: Keep up the great work. Thank you very, very much.

Ladies and gentlemen, don't forget to join us next time on "Life, Liberty & Levine."

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