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Let's roll

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The catchphrase "let's roll" has been used extensively as a term to move and start an activity, attack, mission or project. For a period of time after the attacks of September 11, 2001 the phrase in the United States came to symbolize heroism and initiative in a tough situation.

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Let's_Roll.jpg
A "Let's Roll!" decal is displayed on an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan during 2002.

"Let's roll" was in common use on 1950s and 1960s police television shows such as Adam-12 and (the original) Dragnet. It has appeared, among other places, in the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and the 1987 movie Matewan where it was used by Baldwin-Felts agents just before a violent attack on striking coal miners. But its alleged usage on 9/11 changed its meaning. Todd Beamer, a passenger on the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, called his wife on the plane's seat back GTE airfone after the flight was hijacked. Through that phone and other 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. Beamer spoke his last known words to the group, overheard via the phone connection. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Beamer actually said the words "roll it," apparently referring to a food cart being used as a battering ram. It was misheard as "let's roll," and the phrase became connected to the events.

The catchphrase became especially known and popular 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. The phrase was successfully registered as a trademark by the Todd M. Beamer Foundation.

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. It was also used by Lisa Beamer, widow of Todd, in a 2003 book titled Let's Roll: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage (ISBN 0842374183).

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