Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Gary Sinise will receive the 2017 James Cardinal Gibbons Medal, the Alumni Association’s highest accolade. Sinise will be presented with the Medal during a dinner hosted by the Alumni Association on April 8, 2017 at the University’s Washington, D.C., campus.
“Gary Sinise has been tireless in his work to acknowledge the sacrifices of America’s troops, veterans, and wounded warriors, as well as law enforcement, rescue workers, and first responders,” said John Garvey, University president. “The Catholic University of America is honored to present him with the Gibbons Medal in recognition of his unwavering support of the brave men and women who serve our country.”
For nearly 40 years, Sinise has been an advocate for America’s service members. His work began in the early 1980s when he created Vets Night, a program offering free dinners and performances to veterans at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. His commitment continued into the 1990s, when he worked on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans organization. His portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in the film Forrest Gump in 1994 formed an enduring connection with servicemen and women throughout the military community. In 2011, to expand on his individual efforts, Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation. Its mission is to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need by creating programs that entertain, educate, strengthen, and build communities.
“While Gary Sinise is widely known from the silver screen, it really was his work on behalf of American service men and women that caught our attention,” said Carrie Grundmayer, B.A. 1996, president of CUA’s Alumni Association. “His work on behalf of military veterans and their families, as well as the U.S. military and humanitarian efforts, are truly inspiring to people in our country.”
For more information on the awards dinner, please visit engage.catholic.edu. Look for a list of all alumni honorees in the spring issue of The Catholic University of America Magazine.
About the James Cardinal Gibbons Medal
Established in 1947, the James Cardinal Gibbons Medal is named in honor of the University’s founder and first chancellor and is intended to honor any person who, in the opinion of the Alumni Association’s Board of Governors, has rendered distinguished and meritorious service to the Roman Catholic Church, the United States of America, or The Catholic University of America. It recognizes an individual, who may or may not be a CUA alumnus or alumna. The Medal is conferred by the University president on behalf of the Alumni Association during the alumni awards ceremony in the spring.
Fifty years ago, upon receiving the Medal in 1956, then-Senator John F. Kennedy reflected on what a profound honor it was to accept an award bearing the name of Cardinal Gibbons. He said in his speech: “Few other churchmen have left such an extraordinary and enduring impression upon the American scene; and few have given so much value to the life of their church and their country.”
The Medal was first given out in 1949. Past recipients include Rev. Fulton J. Sheen (1953), Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver (1965), Chief Justice Earl Warren (1966), actress Helen Hayes (1973), First Lady Nancy Reagan (1986), best-selling Dead Man Walking author Sr. Helen Prejean (2003).