By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
(Sept. 22, 2022) Lieutenant Dan is giving one Worcester County World War II veteran a leg to stand on.
Morris Semiatin, 96, will receive $35,500 from the Gary Sinise Foundation, a charity and veterans service organization founded by the actor of the same name, who famously portrayed Lt. Dan Taylor in the 1994 feature film “Forrest Gump” (the character loses both legs from wounds suffered in Viet Nam).
“It floored me. I cried all day when I got that message (about the grant),” Morris Semiatin’s adult son Ben Semiatin said.
He said that the grant will be the largest that the foundation — itself the second largest veteran-support foundation in the United States — has ever given out, and it will cover the next six months of his father’s stay at Gull Creek Senior Living in Berlin.
That’s not all, either.
The foundation will send the Semiatin men on an all-expenses-paid, three-day trip to New Orleans to visit the National WWII Museum. They’ll fly out Tuesday from Salisbury and come back Thursday.
The trip will consist of a marine escort to the museum on Wednesday, including a VIP tour and a historian who will conduct a video interview with Morris Semiatin for the museum. Ben Semiatin said he expects local media to be present and that Sinise himself has expressed interest in meeting his dad.
“If he shows up that’ll be incredible,” he said. “I’m just doing everything I can to make my dad happy each and every day. To have this trip it’ll be incredible. He’s looking forward to it.”
All of this is possible because the younger Semiatin, every few months or so, sends letters out to foundations all across the country, looking for help for his father. Care at assisted living homes easily ranges into thousands of dollars per month and as such, sometimes an outside helping hand can go a long way, he said.
About four months ago, he reached out to the Sinise Foundation and they responded.
The trip is a function of the foundation’s Soaring Valor program, Ben Semiatin said
For the elder Semiatin, it’s the exhibits that deal with the Pacific Theater, in which his service occurred, that he’s looking forward to.
“I’m looking forward to the Iwo Jima section and meeting a lot of people,” he said.