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A Salute to America

cbarrett1
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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.
30 Comments
FriendofBlogBoy
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Colleen, Your eloquence is matched only by your patriotism and your LUV for Southwest Airlines and its people! You are TRULY a blessing to your Employees, your Customers and to all of us who hold Southwest in such high regard! Thanks for a great reminder of the importance of tomorrow and of some of the ways that Southwest enriches our lives by its success! Happy Fourth of July to all 33,000 members of the SWA family and to my "blog family" here, Kim External Blog Boy 🙂
Francisco_Delga1
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Happy fourth of July to my friends at Southwest. As i write this i am in a poverty striken land. There are little children running around with no shoes, there are people dying on the streets. I think about all that we have in our country and how much i take for granted. Happy fouth to everyone back home.. see you soon.... USS BLOG BOY
Walt_Hill
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Ms. Barrett- A big "Amen" from one of your customers in Tucson (formerly from the East). Actually, Southwest has played a big role in allowing me to see more of this big, wonderful, beautiful, free country. Indeed, SWA played a big role in me moving out this far from family members, because I know I can get back to see them whenever I need to. Happy Birthday, America! Walt
Ed_Duffy
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Thanks to Southwest Airlines, Our " Great " country has became smaller, to travel and visit with family and friends.
Michael_Kammer
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Ms. Barrett, What an uplifting speech! This is why after being an employee of another airline for 7 years I have greatfully excepted Southwest's invitation to join their family! What a fantastic company/culture that has someone so positively motivating at its helm! Happy Fourth, and let us all rejoice in our freedoms that all in this world are not able to enjoy!
Leah4
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Thanks for your awesome work, Colleen, as well as all of the LUVing SWA employees! Happy 4th of July! SWA LUV! 🙂
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Happy 4th everyone! I get to celebrate again on the 6th. 6 years of wedded bliss. :-) Coloque sello en el rincÃ
Andrew_Trzonkow
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I would just like to say thank you to you and Southwest Airlines for being patriotic and promoting America is a way that can pull on the heart strings of everyone. From this most perfect blog to the amazing and almost personal commercial with the little child singing and with the feel good images of family and country shown throughout - thank you. America is my home and a place that I love and I see that Southwest feels the same. Thank You, you have made a Southwest customer out of me.
FriendofBlogBoy
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Joe, You really should ask my permission before suggesting that I be placed in the upper right hand corner. Kim :) P. S. Â
E_MacDonald
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Ten Big AMENS. WE really do live in the greatest country on earth. Some people do not appreciate our freedom and are so willing to give it away. We flew Southwest for the first time last year after being discontented on an airline that we had flown frequently. We had such a great time that we have made Southwest our permanent airline travel home. The staff was just so pleasant and such great fun, so different from the previous carrier. We recommend Southwest to anyone who is traveling. Just don't change as you get bigger, because I am sure you will grow by leaps and bounds with the fun atmosphere that you project.
Ray1
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I've been reading articles that suggest Southwest go to assigned seating. I am very much opposed to it. I like the "Cattle Call" seating. I get to chose who I sit next to for one. But more importantly the plain fills and leaves at least five minutes faster. I really hate to have more of my time wasted as a sardine in a can. With assigned seating you will have one of the things that gets Southwest my business and make you just another alternative for my travel.
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Kim, I am not an its! You line translates to congratulations in its sixth anniversary. Silly online translation machine. Now hypoallergenic. Ding! boy Joe
Tony_Brigmon
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Colleen ... I told you this before and I'll say it again: You REALLY have a gift for writing. Your Salute to America was inspiring. This is indeed a land of dreams. And I pray we can keep it that way. You filled in some blanks for me with a glimpse at your personal history. Thank you for sharing. You are living proof that great things are possible for dreamers who are willing to roll up their sleeves and invest some sweat equity in transforming those dreams into reality. And, as you know, Southwest certainly helped me live one of my dreams. And I continue to do so. Keep shining. Best wishes ... Tony Brigmon
Grumpy
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I love your patriotic comments and I too love this great country. I have traveled abroad extensively including living two years in Guatemala(I love the people there)and can say I always feel releaved when I return and see the flag and am welcomed by the custom agent. I just wish you would include Charleston, SC as an airport to service.
Boots
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Nuts !
Stu1
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Please go back to the traditional peanuts.....those of us that have sugar restricted diets cannot enjoy the honey roasted peanuts.....please revert to the traditional peanuts!!
Erin_Swanson
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Just want to say thanks for making flight an affordable option for people, enabling them to see this great country. We are so fortunate here. I am a big Southwest fan and love to fly with you guys and do so often. Thanks for bringing service to Pittsburgh, PA and all the cheap flights to Nashville, TN I take to visit my parents! Happy Fourth of July. Keep up the great job everyone!
William_Arnold
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THOSE WORDS LIFE ,LIBERTY & PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS...WERE VERY MUCH IN MIND AS MY SON & I SAT FOR 9.5 HRS. ON THE RUNWAY IN 'PHILLY' WEN/THUR EVENING OF JUNE 27/28TH ON FLT. 77..... FREEDOM ALSO CAME TO MIND WHEN A LADY FINALLY CALLED 911TO GET US & HER HISTARICAL CHILD TO THE GATE...ONLY TO HAVE EIGHT OF PHILLY'S FINEST WAITING FOT HER AND TAKING ANYONE ELSE OFF THAT VOICED CONCERN OVER THE INORDINATE AMOUNT OF TIME WE WERE TRAPPED ON THE PLANE......OUR TRIP TO SEE THE LIBERTY BELL & THE SITE OF THE SIGNING OF OUR DECLEARATION OF INDEPENDENCE...WE FOREVER BE OVERSHADOWED BY THE FLT.#77 NITEMARE....
blusk
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Mr Arnold, I am so sorry to hear of your experience in Philadelphia on June 27, and hopefully you have received our letter of apology from the Executive Office that was sent on June 28 to each Customer onboard Flight #77. I personally know what a mess the operations in Philadelphia were for all airlines. I was trying to depart (on a full fare ticket) with the largest carrier in Philadelphia on those days, and they basically abandoned me with absolutely no apologies whatsoever. If it hadn't been for SWA, I would still be sitting there. Brian
Alex_Hayes
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Thank you Southwest! Thank you for your exceedingly fair fares; for your roomy seats; for your helpful, hard-working and good-humored flight attendants; for your no-frills approach; for your simple and fast boarding. There is always speculation that financial pressures will force you to change, but I hope not. It's always a pleasure to fly with you.
Eleanor_M_Inoue
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Recently, Fri 6/22-6/25/07, I had occasion to fly Southwest Airlines to Boise, ID from Columbus, OH via SLC. Although I had flown for the sad occasion of my beloved step-sister's funeral, thanks to you during all flight legs. I was able to able to "navigate" thru the airports (& facilities) with remarkable ease -- wheelchairs were provided in a timely manner & truly appreciated with my progressive M.S. Dx.. The staff very carefully prepared the ginger ale/water orders & admittedly, I enjoyed the peanut treats. However, the best of all, was the airplane staff''s very good humor & their ability to elicit chuckes from the passengers. All flight legs were "on time" & certainly that fact was TRULY valued & appreciated. It might also be mentioned that setting up this reservation was met with some challenges in revamping prior-made flight reservations--VERY professionally handled! . Your staff took wonderful care of all facets of this personally difficult trip.. Sincere thanks to you all. Eleanor M Inoue 6/22 #2606 CMH 4:55p MDW 5:00p SW #1901 MDW 6:15p BOI 10:20p 6/25 #2591 BOI 6:25a MDW 11:50a SW #596 MDW 5:15p CMH 5:15p Conf #: CU6CJQ
Beth_Nobles
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Thank you for writing about history and patriotism to celebrate the 4th! One of the benefits of travel I enjoy is seeing and getting new perspectives on our fragile and hard-earned freedom in different parts of our country. Out here in Far West Texas, our mountains are a symbol of our freedom, their majesty is a metaphor for the fortitude it took early travelers and settlers to survive in this beautiful high desert country. We also have quiet spaces, not widely known or frequently traveled, but still exist as a frontier. Southwest first brought me here to the region, and now I live here. We'd like to spread the word about this wild part of the world, which is accessible through El Paso and Midland/Odessa, as we represent national and state parks, historic sites and small town museums all over Far West Texas. Is there a way, as a part of future promotions of this part of the world, to include our web address: www.texasmountaintrail.com ? Many thanks.
julie_gibbens
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Colleen, great comment on freedom but what I really wanted to know was when SWA is going to start flying into XNA here in NWA? I understand that you have planes in Tulsa but no self-respecting business traveler, from Wal-Mart or Tyson or any of our hundreds of vendors in the area, is going to drive 1.5 hours, one-way, to fly on business. It doesn't make sense. We don't have the time when our own airport, with mostly American planes, is 20 minutes from the home office. Seriously, please have someone check into the number of business travelers. I think it might blow your mind. Of course, American Airlines, the official partner of Wal-Mart Travel, will do anything within their power to keep you out. Don't be discouraged. I'm currently not enjoying the freedom to roam around the country which all business travelers should demand from their airline of choice. Thanks jg
Ben_Jacks
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Ms. Colleen Barrett, There is a good reason why you are Southwest's President. The words speak for what you are about and reflect the company behind them. I do not travel often...as old mentality has made me cautious about going places and being within my means...for the good service I am sure Southwest provides. I can not explain why I am even taking the time to compare railway economy to airfares. I am glad I did though. If capital letters could express as You did,,, Thanks for being AMERICAN. rbj
Sarah12
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I agree that parts of America ARE beuatiful, and that SWA has allowed me to be able to enjoy some of those beautifull areas...however.....I have a lot of hopelessness over the current state of our nation. Not necessarily its people but I feel there are SO many problems and I feel unsure how to fix them....health care...the enviornment..... work loads ...child care. ...maternaty leave ....tremendous stess levels from the high pressure to acheive ...... broken families ...... and our polititians dont seem to be concerned about anything but the money in their pockets.... in fact MOST of america seems to be driven by the evils of money. We need a change .... we need BIG changes!
Sarah12
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PS.... why doesnt SWA RECYCLE all those millions, billions of plastic drink cups! ....do we REALLY need them anyway ....think of how many PLASTIC bottles people buy in the airport and soon after throw in the trash! It makes me so angry that our culture has gotten so used to buying and throwing...its a disposable nation!
carroll3
New Arrival
Colleen you are our top of our coin. I love you and I just cannot imagine Southwest AIrlines without you or Herb. I want you to know how much you mean to so many of us and your work, dedication,passion,vision,compassion,mothering,caring,smart and LUVing performance will forever be admired. I owe so much to Southwest and to you all, if not for Southwest I would not be so rich in friends, travel,experiences,joy or such fond memories over the past 28 plus years thank you for everything.
Lisa111
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I too would like to know if and when SW Airlines will fly out of XNA airport in Arkansas. Our area is growing by leaps and bounds and we are in need of more service. I know we would have several trips a year to Houston and Dallas in my household. American is not economical unless you have a stop in Texas. You can fly to Connecticut out of XNA cheaper than you can fly to Dallas or Houston. The number of business travelers out of XNA is asstounding.
Joseph_Hershey
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Sarah, I understand you cry out for a more sensible response to the needs of the environment. thegreentax.com is a podcast / blog specifically about how to be green, even in the midst of economic forces against being so. I will have to say, though, that I was happily surpised this past Monday when I flew from Ontario, CA to DTW MI. on flight 1959. They served water in cans. And when they went to collect trash, they announced.... "...Please fully collapse your boxes and separate your cans. We will be recycling the trash picked up from the cabin..." Southwest offers incentives to their employees to recycle where and when they can. Obviously this flight crew felt it necessary to collect and recycle all the trash the cabin would give em, including the cans, not plastic they used for purified water. This won't save the world, but to see a major corporation enabling individual action to clean up the way they do business speaks leaps and bounds to how they treat their employees, and how they think about their business and their customers. If you have any comments about this, please come vist thegreentax.com Thanks.
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[...] I added comment that Southwest shows a new attitude toward its business, employees, and customers, because it does enable, provides incentives to its employees to recycle when and where they choose to. Check it out… A Salute to America. [...]