Running Through Time: 30 Years of Forrest Gump's Iconic Journey

Forrest Gump in Savannah

"Forrest Gump."

"My mama always said life is like a..," need we say more? It would be hard to find anyone across generations who couldn't finish that line. Forrest Gump did and has made an undeniable impact in the lives of many - depicting life's rawness, struggles, joy, loss, prejudice and resilience. Thirty years later, this lovable, misunderstood character is still "running" laps around the heartstrings of Savannah and the millions of visitors who seek to walk through Chippewa Square, where it all began.

As we celebrate the highly unofficial yet universally beloved Forrest Gump Day on July 6, let's take a stroll down memory lane and revel in the sheer awesomeness this blockbuster brought to our town and the world.

"My name's Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump."

Who didn't squeal with excitement upon hearing the Southern drawl of this simplistic introduction? It may be uncomplicated, but it's undeniably sincere. Forrest Gump was a character who did not attempt to be unauthentic - merely because he couldn't. He could not conceal his uniqueness and was taught to embrace his true self without hesitation. There is a valuable lesson to be gleaned from that.

“Don't ever let anybody tell you they're better than you.”

This statement, spoken by Mrs. Gump to Forrest, conveys a strong sense of authority. While it's true that no one will love your child as you do, everyone deserves to be treated with respect. A society that dehumanizes others out of apathy is bound to fail.

"Jenny and me was like peas and carrots."

Absolutely everyone shipped "Fenny." You know it's true! There wasn't a dry eye in the house as we witnessed the vast difference between Forrest and Jenny's upbringing, her failed attempts at becoming a bird to escape her unchosen turmoil; his drive to become the man that could gift her those wings and how he consistently showed up for her no matter where they were in the world. Jenny's voyage to freedom was a route we wouldn't wish for anyone, but it was hers to take. Despite Forrest's inability to understand the concept, he always eagerly awaited her return and offered her much-needed respite.

"Bubba was my best good friend. And even I know that ain't something you can find just around the corner."

Wow, Forrest and Bubba were truly an incredible pair. Their friendship was one to envy, free from any bias, discrimination or arrogance. It was the kind of bond that only comes along once in a lifetime, if we're lucky, and it serves as a powerful reminder that we should not judge others based on their race but on their character - just as a wise man once said (MLK).

“You can't keep trying to rescue me all the time.”

There's nothing harder than sitting on your hands and watching the one you love fall on their own sword. Forrest was an unknowing enabler for Jenny. She knew that no matter her decision or how far from Greenbow, Alabama, she roamed, he would be there to pick up the pieces, wipe her tears and take accountability for her. But she also understood that Forrest was mortal - he couldn't save her any more than she could rescue herself.

"I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is."

You don't wear love as a badge of honor; it's a choice. Forrest chose Jenny repeatedly, knowing that the risks were painful, but he was unwilling not to feel it. He understood that love didn't require a degree or even reciprocation. It was about showing up, even if it meant alone.

"Anyway, like I was sayin', shrimp is the fruit of the Sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it..."

Listen, Bubba was a man who knew what he wanted. And in Savannah, it's all about shrimp - it's practically the currency around here! You can't walk two feet without stumbling upon a delicious dining spot that doesn't serve these succulent delicacies in every imaginable form. Bubba, bless his soul, was a shrimp-selling genius. He could make a crustacean sound like gold because the taste is priceless in Savannah.

"What's my destiny, Mama?" Mrs. Gump: "You're gonna have to figure that out for yourself."

Oh, how we love us some Mama Gump. So wise and so matter of fact. She didn't mince words when it came to her only baby because she understood that the world could be harsh without the proper guidance. Forrest's journey in this chaotic world was the film's central focus. He was forced to learn that it doesn't matter who you know, your intelligence level, or your wealth - true self-worth cannot be bought and only you can shape your destiny.

Life lessons don't have to be complicated. Sometimes, they come unexpectedly from a candid man on a park bench in a white suit with assorted chocolates at the right time. "And that's all we've got to say about that."

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