“What moves me in the theater, what’s more interesting to me, is what grabs my heart. I like to react from my gut,” he says. “I guess when I was in Iraq in November of 2003 and saw the troops caring for the school children, I reacted the same way. I felt there was a way to help our troops help the children, and so I took some action.”

In 1988, Sinise parlayed his stage success to the silver screen, directing the critically-acclaimed Miles from Home, which also starred Richard Gere. On-screen acting work quickly followed, in everything from Forrest Gump to Apollo 13, Reindeer Games to CSI: NY, where Sinise has held court and seen solid ratings since 2004. “Honestly, I was afraid I’d feel really stuck and penned in on a TV series, but the truth is, I’ve never felt so free. Knowing I’m on one of these hit TV franchises means I don’t have to constantly worry about where the next job’s coming from, which is what most actors are doing most of the time,” he says. “The weight of joblessness is lifted, so I can choreograph a lot of adventurous and amazing things with that security. I can donate money to things I never could have before. I’m into a lot of humanitarian efforts and charities now. I’m in a new phase of life as somebody who wants to give back and has the ability to do that. It’s a real blessing.”

And he adds, “I’ve gotten pretty quick at putting those rubber gloves on.”

Today, Sinise is a rebel with a cause. He continues to support American troops and the reformation of Iraq, and he also raises funds, supplies, and awareness for others in need around the world. While his generosity and advocacy work are the stuff of “quiet angels,” as Eisenhower puts it, he insists he’s still as fiery as ever -- ready to go face-first into a demanding acting job, ready to crank the amps to 11 onstage, and committed to simply doing the right thing. “Truth is, I have grown up. I have changed. I have learned a lot. I have gotten a little more conservative,” Sinise says. “But there’s always a fight in me. I have never been one to wait around for someone to do something. I’ll always be ready to go all the way with the things I believe in.”

He pauses and reflects for a moment, considering all that he’s said and all that he’s done. He finally concedes, “Maybe I am an activist.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP


Operation Iraqi Children is always looking for volunteers to build school-supply kits or to help in its warehouse. Monetary donations are also welcome. To find out how you can get involved, visit www.operationiraqichildren.org.