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War, Family and Faith

Gary Sinise and Filmmakers Reveal Faith

BY ANITA CRANE

REGISTER CORRESPONDENT

March 15-21, 2009 Issue | Posted 3/6/09 at 10:04 AM

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Behind the new film Brothers at War, which was scheduled to open in theaters March 13, are two Catholic stories.

One is that of a Catholic family struggling with issues of war and mortality; the other, of an established actor who has found inspiration in the Catholic faith to make a difference in the lives of those affected by war and terrorism.

In the R-rated documentary, Jake Rademacher, the eldest son in a Catholic American family, seeks to understand why two of his brothers serve in the U.S. Army and put their lives on the front lines.

Gary Sinise, star of “CSI: New York,” is an executive producer of the film, which was screened in Washington on Feb. 20.

Sinise revealed to the Register his developing relationship with the Catholic Church.

In Brothers at War, the Rademachers express their own struggles and their faith in God. Army Capt. Isaac Rademacher has led several combat missions in Iraq, and he describes his service as “a calling.” His younger brother, Sgt. Joe Rademacher, is an Army Ranger and sniper who served under Isaac in Iraq. Their parents, Dr. Dennis Rademacher and his wife, Nikki, are resigned to God’s will.

The Rademachers’ faith is one reason why Sinise got involved in Brothers at War.

“It’s a very positive portrait of an American family,” said Sinise. “I visit our service members all over the world on a regular basis, and I know who these people are. And this movie will help explain that a little more to the American people who might not understand the kinds of people that we have defending this country. In a time of war, we should know who our people are and why they do it.”

Capt. Rademacher said, “The soldiers in that film are the no-kidding, frontline, as-far-as-you-can-go troops. And they’ve seen a lot of action, and after you’ve seen and experienced that action, it’s when you let go. And you know it’s not really up to you, in terms of your time to die.”

Reflecting on his Catholic faith, Capt. Rademacher said, “If your personal requirement is to confess your sins, pray, whatever it may be to prepare yourself, then that’s what you do.”

Jake Rademacher also saw another side of fighting men. Marine Chief Warrant Officer David “Gunner” Kensington, who trains Iraqi troops, impressed him with his compassion, among other things.

In the film, terrorists come from Syria, attack the Iraqi soldiers and brutally injure two.

“One of the most amazing things I’ve seen and heard was that Marine softly stroking the side of the [wounded] Iraqi soldier’s face,” Rademacher said. After the battle, all eyes are on Kensington as he praises the Iraqis for their progress. Kensington tells the soldiers that if he should be killed they must continue to defend their country. Some of the Iraqi soldiers weep, then all rush to hug and kiss him.


Sinise’s Role

At the Brothers screening, active members of the U.S. military and veterans alike thanked all the producers, but the most poignant testimonies were directed to Sinise for his outreach to the U.S. military and victims of terrorism.

Retired Navy Rear Adm. Roy Hoffmann announced that when one of his friends awoke from surgery he saw Sinise watching over him.

One of the many projects Sinise cofounded is Operation Iraqi Children, an organization that helps U.S. troops and other Americans to save Iraqi children from squalor by providing school supply kits and other necessities.

Nahla Qader, a Sunni Muslim from Iraq, thanked him for that and more.

“You can see, Mr. Gary, that when you were in Iraq with your organization to save those children that they could say, ‘I love you,’” she said. “You could feel the gratitude in their hearts. But here I am. I’m telling you that you can touch this gratitude.” Then, Sinise ran from the stage and embraced her.

Discussing Qader’s gratitude two days later, Sinise said, “That was an amazing moment actually, for me, because I had never met her. I didn’t know her.”

As it turns out, a State Department official told Sinise about war victims in Afghanistan and Iraq. One boy’s arm had been blown off by terrorists, so Sinise paid for him to get a prosthetic arm in the United States. When Qader and her family gained asylum in the U.S., they had no credit or money, so he cosigned on their apartment lease and paid their rent.Thus, Qader said she’s teaching her children to make sacrifices for others.

Why is Sinise so generous to servicemen and people he’s never met? He said he’s grateful to all American military families. In fact, he knows what they do and what they endure because many of his family members are military veterans. Above all, he said he loves God and he’s inspired by the Catholic faith.

Sinise’s wife, actress Moira Harris, is Catholic. Therefore, he goes to Mass with her and said the Catholic faith has helped him put things into perspective. “It’s very, very positive in our lives,” he said.

“I am not a Catholic and have not practiced any particular religion, but [through] my wife, through her Catholic faith and through her devotion to the Catholic Church, I’ve become far more faith filled in the past eight or nine years than ever before.”

Anita Crane writes

from Northern Virginia.