Let's Roll

On September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer, a passenger on the hijacked United Airlines flight 93, called his wife on his cellular telephone after the hijackings began. Through that phone and other cell phone contacts with the ground, the passengers learned that two other hijacked planes had been crashed into the World Trade Center. As a result, some of the passengers apparently decided to storm the cockpit. Todd spoke his last known words to the group, overheard via the cellular phone connection: "Let's roll".

The catchphrase became symbolic of heroism and initiative in a tough situation, especially after being used by President George W. Bush in a speech to AmeriCorps volunteers and during his 2002 State of the Union Address. Profiteers soon tried to lay claim to it as a trademark, even though the phrase was in common use long before September 11.

In early 2002, United States Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper ordered that one airplane in each USAF squadron and all USAF demonstration planes would bear an image of an eagle on an American flag with the words "Let's Roll" and "Spirit of 9-11", to remain until the first anniversary of the attack.

The phrase was also used as the title of a Neil Young song about the flight.

The phrase appeared in a first-season Saturday Night Live skit with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. The skit, "Police State", featured two policemen who responded to calls with the phrase, "Let's roll." Its common use on police television shows such as Adam-12 and (the original) Dragnet pre-dates SNL by many years and was based on common slang.


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