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A quote from Forrest Gump:

There was Dallas, from Phoenix; Cleveland - he was from Detroit; and Tex... well, I don't remember where Tex come from."

Why does he not know where Tex is from... and what is the significance of the names of the people and the places they are from...?

Maybe...Lieutenant Dan has something to do with this as after Bubba and Forrest state that they are from Alabama Lieutenant Dan states:

So, you boys are from Arkansas, huh? Well, I've been through there. Little Rock's a fine town.

...They are not from Arkansas, they just told him they are from Alabama...

So maybe Lieutenant Dan is messing up things in regards to the people and where they are from...?

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  • 16
    I thought the joke was that Tex was from Texas but Forrest was too dumb to realise.
    – Valorum
    Apr 22 at 13:20
  • 2
    But he named the cities where the other two were from, so you would expect he was trying to remember the city Tex was from, not the state.
    – shim
    Apr 22 at 16:04
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    @shim - Sure, but that's the joke. Forrest is dumb and says a dumb thing. He knows where he others are from because they've told him whereas Tex is openly from Texas and hadn't told him, hence he doesn't know.
    – Valorum
    Apr 22 at 16:16
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    I think the joke is on us the audience because we are meant to go "Of course Tex is from Texas logically!", but the preceding 2 people actually follow the opposite logic: they're not from the state of city bearing their name. Following that logic, the only thing we can conclude is Tex is from anywhere except Texas. But then again, there is no famous city named 'Texas'. And even further, someones name really provides no guarantee where they're from anyway. So much like forrest... I am not sure where Tex comes from. I mean it's probably Texas though.
    – jmathew
    Apr 22 at 19:27
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    Lt Dan messes things up because he doesnt really care about where they're from or who they are. From Lt Dan's perspective, they're probably going to die so why get to know them? In fact, Lt Dan's plan is to die there himself. I dont think that plays into the joke about where people are from.
    – jmathew
    Apr 22 at 19:35

3 Answers 3

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There's no significance to him not remembering where Tex was from other than perhaps (unlike the others) he was from Texas.

It's just a cute line about people whose names happen to be also places, but not the places where they were from, and a gentle joke about Forrest's memory or deduction skills.

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    Specifically, all the other guys on the squad are named after cities and Forrest is able to keep track of what city they are from. The only one he forgets is the one named after a state.
    – Seth R
    Apr 22 at 13:02
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    And that is significant? Or is it just a funny story that a bunch of people were named after places.
    – iandotkelly
    Apr 22 at 15:26
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    I think the point is actually how insignificant of a detail it is in contrast to the subsequent events and how Forrest is a bit oblivious.
    – shim
    Apr 22 at 16:32
  • see updates.. maybe Lieutenant Dan has something to do with it.. Apr 22 at 17:55
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    As @Valorum stated in a comment - its also a gentle joke about the fact that Tex (probably a nickname) is (probably) from Texas. So I've made that clear in my answer too. Other significance? Meh, probably not honestly.
    – iandotkelly
    Apr 22 at 20:42
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what is the significance of the names of the people and the places they are from..?

The first part of the anecdote is amusing because the people have nicknames that are different cities than the ones they're actually from. This averts the expectation that a person with a nickname of a city would be from that city. There's no significance beyond that juxtaposition.

Specifically, Dallas is a large city in the US state of Texas, and Phoenix is in Arizona — they're about 880 mi (1,400 km) apart. Likewise, Cleveland is a city in Ohio, and Detroit is in Michigan, about 90 miles (150 km) apart.

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    your answer is essentially the same as the other one, except more wordy. It doesn't answer anything extra about the question.
    – Luciano
    Apr 22 at 12:58
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    @Luciano I think the addition that the other guys are named after cities, whereas Tex is named after a state, is a significant point the other answer misses.
    – Seth R
    Apr 22 at 13:00
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    Are they actually nicknames, or their given names?
    – Barmar
    Apr 22 at 13:55
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    @Barmar "Dallas" and "Cleveland" are regular person names. "Tex" is a nickname.
    – RonJohn
    Apr 22 at 16:45
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    Dallas and Cleveland could also be last names. For Lt Dan, that's his first name but only Forrest ever calls him "Lieutenant Dan". We also see a Sgt Sims, and that's probably a last name. A "Coleman" is also referenced, which is probably a last name too. Not seeing other applicable examples within the context of the platoon in the script.
    – shim
    Apr 22 at 18:54
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While meeting someone with a first name like 'Brooklyn' might pretty typical today, it would be unusual in Vietnam-era US.

Referring to people by their last name (or rank - last name) is standard in the military for practical reasons. A soldier's last name was displayed on their uniform. In any random group of people, it's a lot more likely two people will have the same first name than the same last name. You don't want to be in the middle of a skirmish and yell out 'John, cover me' and have multiple people think you are talking to them. But they might also get a nickname. If you had one guy from Texas in your unit, it would be very normal to call him 'Tex'.

Why? Texas has a more unique culture than most states in the US. It's one of only six (well 5 and a half) states in the US that was an independent nation. The prior independence other 5.5 states as nations is pretty obscure, but Texas tends to celebrate that independent history and it is well-known ("remember the Alamo".) It's also the largest state (by size) in the lower 48. People from Texas tend to be loud and proud about where they are from. Often people from the US can know a person is from Texas just by the way they speak. "Don't mess with Texas" is likely one of the most sold bumper stickers of all time.

It's pretty clear to me, as the child of a Vietnam vet, that 'Dallas' and 'Cleveland' are last names that happen to be the same the names of US cities and that 'Tex' is nickname for a soldier from Texas. The joke doesn't make sense otherwise and it's clearly a joke.

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    Hawaii was also an independent nation before becoming a state.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 23 at 17:04
  • @JonCuster So it was. My mistake.
    – JimmyJames
    Apr 23 at 17:18
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    @JohnBollinger Of course it is. Have you no knowledge of the military?
    – JimmyJames
    Apr 24 at 15:03
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    Hate to add another correction, but Vermont was also an independent nation before joining the US. That's why there are 13 original colonies and not 14.
    – Michael W.
    Apr 24 at 15:45
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    @MichaelW. No worries. Being (correctly) corrected equals learning.
    – JimmyJames
    Apr 24 at 15:51

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