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A Blog Team Independence Day

Retired Community Manager
This holiday weekend, there's much to be thankful for in America: our many Freedoms, the Military service men and women who protect those freedoms, and being able to come together with friends and family to celebrate all of it.  
For me, the last few days have consisted of relaxation, catching up with family and friends, and trying to find the source of all these fireworks.  Funny, the things we still do, regardless of age.  As a young kid in Chicago, any time I heard a firecracker, or resounding "Pop-whistle-BOOM," I'd follow the scent like a hound chasing down a fox.  I adore the fireworks, not just because of the visual aesthetics, but because of the fact you're never watching them alone. Even if someone's on the other side of a lake, or town, or wherever, fireworks are a communal thing.  Our Blog Team is kind of the same - you're never alone.  So I thought it'd be nice to see what Freedom means to my fellow Blog Teamers.
Brooks Thomas
Emerging Media Team

Freedom to Enjoy it All
by Timothy O'Keefe

Freedom to do what you LUV is one of the greatest things we can enjoy. This weekend, I came across so many examples of Americans doing things that make them happy. I took a walk along Lake Michigan with my wife and dog Saturday morning. While we were there, people were taking advantage of the Freedom to whatever things they like. Whether these people were there to take in sun, grill, enjoy an ice cold beverage, or just be with their loved ones, Freedoms were being enjoyed by all.
Freedom may mean different things to each of us. However, this holiday is an appropriate time to remember why we have the Freedoms we do. Thank someone who has served our Country. Without them and their sacrifices, we would have no Freedom to enjoy at all.

Respecting Our History
by Capt. Joe Gautille

What does freedom mean to me? Enjoying a day to reflect on our American history and the sacrifices many have made before me to give me this day. While the 4th of July is a different national holiday than Memorial Day or Veteran's Day, it makes me think of our servicemen and women on duty around the world. It means time with family, 4th of July parades, patriotism, thankfulness for being born in the USA and respecting our history, politics, language, worshipping God, and all that makes up our American culture. Mostly I think of our Founding Fathers and the Revolutionary War period that defined our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. As a country we are far from even near perfect, but I believe the majority of Americans are appreciative of our freedoms, our way of life and our striving to be a better country, and us Southwest folks, a better airline. Happy Independence Day!

What Freedom Means to Me
by Annie Hoelzel

On the Fourth of July, I think of those who fought for the freedom I enjoy.  I have always believed that the United States is the best country in the world, and I have always been proud to call myself an American.  I am thankful for our troops that preserve our freedom and country everyday from those who would hurt us without their protection. 

As a woman, I am especially grateful for those who fought for women everywhere during the suffrage movement.  Because of them I have the freedom to be exactly where I am today, an employee at Southwest Airlines.  Their perseverance has allowed me to be an independent woman and responsible for my own future.

I feel it is important to celebrate this nation’s independence.  We need to remember the lifestyles and living conditions our ancestors broke away from to start a new life with an unlimited future.  It is no wonder that the United States is still the country with the most immigration.  Everyone wants a taste of freedom.

The Pride of Independence
by Shannon Draper

On July 1st John Adams wrote the following letter to his wife Abigail:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.[6]

Of course, John Adams was off by 2 days.  However, in his letter he says that we should celebrate and 235 years later we are still celebrating with pomp (a show of magnificence: splendor <every day begins … in a pomp of flaming colors)

The 4th of July means to me a time of celebrating our independence, showing our pride for being an American, and showing others what America has to offer.  We do this by way of picnics, baseball, and fireworks.  One of my most memorable 4th of July celebrations is when I was a little girl in Amarillo.  My cousins would come from Oklahoma, California, and around Texas to visit.  On the 4th of July, early in the day, we would all get together to play baseball, cook hamburgers and hot dogs out on the grill, and eat homemade ice cream.  One year my mother made coconut ice cream and the coconut froze and made it real chewy.  Of course none of us wanted to say anything because we had waited all day for ice cream and we knew better than to complain.  Later on in the evening, my Dad would pile us all in the 57 Chevy and take us out into the country to shoot fireworks. Of course we couldn’t shoot off the fireworks until it got dark.  I can remember going in my pajamas. My sisters and cousins would set off fireworks and we would all ooh and awe.  I wouldn’t get to, since I was so young, but I could hold a sparkler.  Now I watch the fireworks instead of participating.  I don’t have to drive to the country to set them off but sit on a blanket in a parking lot.  I still enjoy the fireworks.  However the displays that they have now are a lot better than the ones my sisters and cousins set off nearly 50 years ago.  Happy 4thof July!

The Freedom to Vote
by Krista Crow

Whenever I am asked about the freedoms we have, I always think of the right to vote first.  Sometimes I think we forget how important it is because we take it for granted.  Here is why it holds such a special place in my heart.

My Grandmother was born in England in 1921. At the age of eight she came to the United States on a  ship and was processed through Ellis Island.  At the age of 60, I taught her the Pledge of Alligence and she recited it to become a citizen of the United States.  Her biggest reason for wanting to become a U.S. citizen?  She wanted to vote.  I will never forget how excited she was to vote for the first time.  Ronald Regan was always her favorite president, probably because that was the first time she was actually able to vote for a president.  My Grandmother voted in every election, never missing the chance to have her voice heard. 

Whenever I vote I always think of her.  My grandmother, Florrie Kersey, waited a long time to become a citizen and earn the right to vote.  I appreciate the privilege I was given to vote just by being born in the United States.

A Spectacular Display
by Brian Lusk

My airline career began less than a month before a huge Independence Day--our 200th birthday in 1976.  Delta had modified its trademark "widget" with stars and stripes on the nose of the aircraft with the slogan "We the People."

In the ensuing 35 years, I've watched fireworks over San Francisco from our Oakland Ops trailer.  Landing in Portland through firework-filled skies came later. In those 35 years, I've always been proud to be an American and proud of the small role I play in helping Americans travel about this great country. 


Really Free?!
by Ally Harrington

When we say the word "free," or "freedom," we throw the words around like we really know what it means. For me, I did nothing to deserve this true FREEDOM that I have. It's an amazing word - FREEDOM.

I'm free to wear what I want to wear. I have the freedom to go to the Church of my choice. I have the freedom to believe in a mighty and awesome God.

When I think about freedom, I think about a soldier in a foreign land. Each day that soldier is going to battle to fight for my freedom. We use the word freedom, but do we really, truly understand the full meaning of the word? 

Freedom to Be Me
by Bill Owen

To me, Freedom is the ability to be who I want to be, who I'm supposed to be, and who I am.  Our country--and Southwest!--has given me an amazing ability to be who I want to be.  And I LUV it!  My family, friends, and church have allowed me to be who I'm supposed to be--which is always one step further than where I am, but that's the point of the journey.  As for who I all of us, I'm a work in progress.  I’m trying to, as Oprah Winfrey taught us, "live my best life."  For right now, I'm an overweight guy on blood pressure medication who likes both beer and Reality T.V. too much.  But because I have the freedom to change....In my future is more evening walks than watching T.V., more iced tea and water than beer, and (hopefully) many, many more years to enjoy my life, my family, and my Employer.

Happy Independence day, y'all.

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