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Hollywood honors actor and veteran activist Gary Sinise

LOS ANGELES, April 18, 2017 (BSS/AFP) - Oscar-nominated actor and longtime armed forces champion Gary Sinise was honored on Monday with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a markedly military ceremony.

The 62-year-old, who has advocated for service personnel and veterans for almost 40 years, was given an honor guard by troops on Hollywood Boulevard, with the national anthem sung by singer-songwriter Steve Amerson.

"I'm grateful for these heroes and all who continue to defend us," Sinise said as he was presented with the Walk's 2,606th star for his work in television.

"It is a gift to be able to use some of the success that I've had in the movie and television business to try to do some good for those who serve and sacrifice each day for our precious freedom."

Sinise received a best supporting actor Oscar nomination in 1995 for his portrayal of disabled, emotionally tortured platoon leader Lt. Dan Taylor in "Forrest Gump," opposite Tom Hanks, who would also be his co-star in "Apollo 13" and "The Green Mile."

His big screen resume includes roles in Sam Raimi's "The Quick and the Dead" (1995), Kevin Spacey's 1997 directorial debut "Albino Alligator," and Brian de Palma films "Snake Eyes" (1998) and "Mission to Mars" (2000).

On television he is best known as Detective Mac Taylor in all 197 episodes of the 2004-13 CBS police procedural "CSI: NY" and currently stars in the network's "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders."

He won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for his role as US President Harry S. Truman HBO movie "Truman" and an Emmy two years later for TNT's "George Wallace," a biopic of the segregationist Alabama governor.

Born March 17, 1955 in Chicago, Sinise was just 18 when he co-founded the Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago with Jeff Perry, who plays former White House chief of staff Cyrus Beene on the ABC drama "Scandal" and was at the ceremony.

Patricia Heaton, best known for her Emmy-award winning performances in "Everybody Loves Raymond," praised his "selflessness, courage, good cheer, hard work and humility."

The father-of-three has spent his entire career making time between shoots to support armed forces members and veterans, building homes for wounded soldiers, visiting them in hospital, running outreach programs and touring military bases with his "Lt. Dan Band."

Robin Rand, a four-star general with the US Air Force who has known Sinise since 2004, described his friend as a "tiger in battle" who is always "just there for us, quietly and without fanfare."

"To those of us who wear our nation's cloth, Gary earned his star rank a long time ago," Rand said.