One of the differences between a global forward and a local forward is that you can't use a local forward in an <html:link> tag. You must use a global forward. The main difference, though, is that a global forward can be used in an Action class, whereas a local forward can be used only in the Action class for which the forward is defined.
As for the <bean:message> tag: here is a link to the documentation for the <bean> tags.
Thanks for the link. I am trying to digest it but I think I am only confusing myself.
I learn best from examples, is there a simple code example somewhere that does just this one function? It seams like in the entire crawl-walk-run learning cycle struts has a few crawl, more run but almost no walk. It is very frustrating.
I'm going to suggest a change in approach here. Rather than struggling through creating your own application without any guidelines, I'd suggest you lay this project aside for a while, and do one of the many good Struts tutorials that are out there. These will walk you step-by-step through the process of creating and testing a Struts application. Once you have done one or two of these, I think you'll be much more ready to tackle your own application.
Here are some links to a few good Struts tutorials: