In celebration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris becoming the nation’s 46th president and vice president of the United States, the special “Celebrating America” was conceived to continue the festivities into primetime. Hosted by national treasure Tom Hanks, the special featured an impressive lineup of stars, including Jon Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Bruce Springsteen, and Ant Clemons. Lin-Manuel Miranda was slated to recite a classic work, while the people across America were also set to make an appearance in a show of national unity, pride, and celebration.
But back to Tom Hanks, and why this Oscar winner was really trending on the evening of this historic day. The answer: Forrest Gump, the best picture winner starring Hanks as the titular Gump. Yes, Hanks returning to the National Mall today brought people back to 1994, when audiences first saw Forrest standing at that very site, delivering another speech (though no one could quite hear it). Indeed, Hanks has been bringing people together for decades.
Tom Hanks returns to the National Mall
As host of “Celebrating America,” actor Tom Hanks said, “Tonight we ponder the United States of America, the practice of our democracy, the foundations of our republic, the integrity of the Constitution.” He spoke of “dreams we share” and the current state of the nation, where “deep division” and “rancor” are all too common (per The New York Post).
This solemn state was also reflected in the Reflecting Pool, illuminated by 400 lights for the 400,000 people lost from COVID-19 (via NPR). When Forrest was at the National Mall in Forrest Gump, remember there was a mass of people. An enormous turnout, though again no one could hear him due to a disconnected speaker. But viewers were reminded of that moment tonight, of Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump, of Forrest and Jenny making their way through the Reflecting Pool to reach one another.
As for those technical difficulties, Hanks has fortunately not faced any in “Celebrating America.” His message, clear: “To some, a presidential inauguration is a tradition, an act that marks the commitment of a new four-year term. Yet, in truth, Inauguration Day is more than the swearing in of the next national leaders. This day is about witnessing the permanence of our American ideal” (via CNN).
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