I'm a lucky woman because every couple of months, along comes a day to lift my spirits. Valentines Day, with its "love theme" is a natural tie-in to the LUV Airline. Easter symbolizes hope and new beginnings. Halloween is, well, a ton of FUN, and it is followed by Thanksgiving, which to me is the most personal of holidays because it is a time to reflect on our blessings. Christmas takes me back to my snow-covered hometown, Bellows Falls, Vermont.
And then there is the most American of all our holidays, July 4th. Independence Day is all about Freedom. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." (The capitalization is Jefferson's, and given my insistence on capitalizing words that are important to Southwest, I hope my Coworkers can see that I am in great company!) Click here and take a moment to read all of Thomas Jefferson's stirring Declaration of Independence. When written, these thoughts were treasonous, and it took sacrifice and courage to back these words up with actions. That was true in 1776, just as it was in 1812, in 1863, in 1918, in 1942, in 1952, in 1972, in 1991, and all the years in between, right up to today.
Southwest is celebrating the Fourth in a big way--as I hope you are, but I want to use this space to share my thoughts on America and being an American. Settlers from Massachusetts first moved to the region of my Vermont hometown in 1753, and having grown up in an area settled before the American Revolution gives me an appreciation for what our Founding Fathers did for us in 1776 and during the hard years to follow. One of the great gifts of America is that we are free to pursue our dreams, even if we aren't sure of what those dreams are at the time. As a young girl, in a financially poor family, I would have laughed had you suggested that I would "grow up" to be the President of a major airline. As a divorced single mother entering the job force as a beginning secretary armed with only an Associate Degree, I might as well have planned to walk on the moon than being on a Team that would eventually run the best airline in America! However, I've always known intuitively that a title isn't important, but your actions are--what you do to positively impact others around you is of the highest import. Making a positive difference in the lives of others is my American Dream come true, and it comes from "who" you are, not "what" you are, your financial status, or your station in life.
I see the American Dream everyday in the eyes of my Fellow Employees, their spouses, and most importantly, their children. No, America isn't perfect, and neither are Americans. But, we are free to be imperfect in an even more imperfect world. It is true that hard work doesn't necessarily ensure success, if you measure success by prestige or even salary. Yet America gives us the opportunity to reap the fruit of our labor. We have the Liberty to travel across this great land by car, train, bus, or air (hopefully by Southwest!) without the government regulating our movement. We can speak our minds openly and participate in free and open elections.
And we are free to pursue Happiness. As to Happiness, I don't think Jefferson was speaking of frivolity, but of the ability to lead full, rewarding lives without government interference. One of the most gratifying things about working for an airline is the role we play in the pursuit of that Happiness. Travel enriches our minds by visiting new locations full of history and natural wonder. Travel strengthens our families by allowing grandparents to see their grandchildren, by reuniting loved ones returning home in uniform, or by rekindling ties with a sibling. Careers are enhanced by face-to-face meetings with a client that begin with a handshake instead of a dial tone. Students can attend the college of their choice because of travel.
Quite simply, travel unites America, and in my job, I have seen most of America. What a beautiful country we live in. From the New England coastline, the hustle and bustle of the great East Coast cities, the farmlands of the Midwest, the sun of Florida, the Great Plains, the Texas prairies, the Rocky Mountains, the California coast, to the lush verdant green of the Northwest and all points in between, this is a magnificent country filled with magnificent people from every walk of life and every background (which we tried to capture in our Fourth of July television commercial). On our nation's birthday, we are grateful for America, for the courage and vision of our Founding Fathers, and for a new generation who will carry the torch of Freedom forward. I am honored to stand with the 33,000+ proud Americans of Southwest Airlines in wishing you the most wonderful Fourth of July.