The Reason Tom Hanks' Inauguration Appearance Is Being Compared To Forrest Gump

In celebration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris becoming the nation's 46th president and 49th 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.

But back to Tom Hanks, and why the Oscar winner was really trending on the evening of this historic day. Why? Forrest Gump or #ForrestGump. As Hanks made his inauguration appearance as host of "Celebrating America," social media quickly took note of the setting, comparing the film star standing at the Lincoln Memorial with Forrest Gump standing there, too — only more than 25 years earlier (actually, more like over 50, for Forrest, not the film).

One Twitter user noted on an image of Forrest looking out at the Reflecting Pool, the Washington Monument in the distance, "Last time we saw Tom Hanks on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial." To which another user replied, "Ah. That's when Forrest Gump received a medal for bravery" (from Lyndon Johnson). Another, meanwhile, chimed in on an image of Hanks from "Celebrating America," "I'm so glad Forrest Gump got to return to the Lincoln Memorial. #TomHanks #CelebratingAmerica #ForrestGump."

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). 

When Forrest in 1968 spoke in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Forrest Gump, technical difficulties prevented the assembled crowd from actually hearing him, which was just one more comparison for netizens to make between Hanks in 2021 and Gump in 1994. Another Twitter user captioned an image of Hanks with the candle-illuminated Reflecting Pool behind him, "Forrest Gump back at the reflecting pool? Today's like a box of chocolates! #InauguralConcert @tomhanks." Of course, the Reflecting Pool was where Forrest and Jenny reunited at a peace really in Forrest Gump.

As said, Hanks in 2021 fortunately did not face any of the sound problems that Forrest did. His message came through, 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).