You never know what you are gonna get. These are the the lines to an iconic film that most of us know by heart. CBS Sunday Morning highlights two actors from the film serving their country long after the camera stopped. As a Vietnam Era Veteran I looked at it as perfect timing – being the day before American is about to honor their military veterans on Veterans Day.
Hard to believe that’s it been 25 years since the movie premiered all across the country, but it has become an American Classic. The commentator called it an ‘odyssey of innocence, not just a war movie’. Hidden in plain sight is a unique peek into American history that many want to forget.
In the speech where Pvt. Gump receives his Metal of Honor. These are the words we didn’t hear – ” Sometimes when people go to Vietnam they go home to their mommas without legs. Sometimes they don’t come home at all. That’s a bad thing. That’s all I have to say about that”. I know some, who physically came home but the war never left them.
In real life, the Metal of Honor was given to Pfc. Sammy Lee Davis and Tom Hanks head was superimposed over his, in the 2002 documentary – A time for Honor. The history inserts brought back memories I saw in the news at that time. The University of Alabama only accepted the three students in 1963 after President John F. Kennedy sent in Federal troops.
Another historical insert, had Forrest Gump calling to complain about people walking around in the middle of the night with flash lights. That was an indication that something strange was going on at the “Watergate Hotel”. In real life, Frank Wills a security guard called it in.
Near the end where Jenny talks about being so sick with an unknown virus that doctors had not cure, she was talking about AIDS. The movie follows Forrest and Jenny through a life-time of experiences. He was a unlikely war hero and many other things, she was the hippy girl who always wanted to be a folk singer.
Pvt. Gump (Tom Hanks) and Lt. Dan (Gary Sinse) established a brotherhood that was formed during war. Life may be a box of chocolates but a battlefield is a box of horrors: You never know who is going to make it, who won’t and who is going to be wounded. Gary Sinse never served in the military, but he had family that did. He now serves military veterans and first responders with his foundation. The battles may be over in Vietnam but they wage on in other parts of the world.
Michael Conner Humpheys served 18 months in Iraq. At the age of 34 he struggles with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). But when he was eight years old, he played the role of young Forrest Gump. He figured he got the role because of his Southern accent but Tom Hanks carried it throughout the movie.
Injuries and accidents happen even when not on the battlefield. They just happen on a larger scale in war.