Actor Gary Sinise has taken 1,000 Gold Star kids to Walt Disney World in Florida via the Snowball Express portion of his charitable organization.
The Gary Sinise Foundation supports members of the military and their families, and taking 1,000 kids who’ve lost a loved one through military service from all around the U.S. to the world’s most infamous theme park is one of the organization’s biggest undertakings yet.
Many of the children were honored by passengers at the airport in Nashville before boarding their American Airlines flight to Orlando, as captured on video by Jen Trinagle, who shared the clip on Facebook. Someone sang the national anthem and several people seemed to be in tears.
“I walked out into the concourse to this scene @americanairlines was flying a plane full of children who had lost a parent in combat to Disneyworld on an all expenses paid trip and they threw a party for them at the gate❤️,” Trinagle wrote.
“When they announced them over the loudspeaker and they lined up to board the plane the whole airport literally stopped and sang the national anthem with military present in salute. Most every person standing around, myself included was bawling at the sight of these kids and spouses who have paid so great a price for our country. To see all of this at Christmas time was so humbling. Seeing the general public in an airport stand still to honor these kids was simply beautiful.”
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Sinise’s website says that the aim of the Gold Star program is to ensure the families “feel remembered and for them to see that they are not alone. It’s something I feel is incredibly important for our nation, letting the children know that we do not forget their sacrifices and we honor them. And it’s such a great feeling to see them healing, smiling, and having fun.”
While Sinise didn’t make the initial journey with the kids, he shared a photo of a plane full of Gold Star kids and their families heading to Florida and announced that he’d be joining them at the end of the week.