Let's Roll--A Battle For Nine Eleven Bucks?



September 29, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 382
"Let's Roll!"--A battle for bucks
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, September 29--The world of Terrorism has some commercial value.   It launched a major merchandising battle between Lisa Beamer--the wife of Todd Beamer who said "Let's Roll" just before leading an attack on the hijackers on Flight 93, causing the plane to crash short of its target--and a couple of businessmen who claim ownership of the slogan "Let's Roll."

        After her husband's death on September 11, Lisa Beamer became known throughout the nation as an advocate for children who have lost a parent.   She created the Todd M. Beamer Foundation for that purpose.  She published a book titled "Let's Roll!"

       Now, she's fighting for the legal right to trademark the slogan, "Let's Roll!" so she can license companies to use it on everything from NASCAR race cars to T-shirts, hats and mugs.    She says money received from licensing fees will go to the foundation, to help fund it.
        But, there's a fly in the ointment.
        America, known for its entrepreneurialism, is all about opportunity--even in the wake of a horrible disaster.    It seems Mrs. Beamer is a day late and dollar short from having the rights to the slogan.  On September 22, 2001, Iman Abdallah of Newark and Jack Williams of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, filed a trademark application for "Let's Roll."   They planned to sell merchandise with the phrase on it.
         Trademark law is both clear and fuzzy.  To gain a copyright, one must show "first usage" to get priority over the name or slogan.   Also, the law was intended for businesses not foundations.
         But then there's another rub.   That is the decision whether a word or slogan is "generic" in nature-- is it so common that anyone can use it, or, put another way, does it belong to the "world."

        The case will be decided by a judge who is reviewing whether anyone particular owns it, or, no one owns it.
         Frankly, I believe the slogan was originally trademarked by guys like Alexander the Great, and General George S. Patton.  It seems to me that anyone who leads others into any kind of battle or confrontation, just might sing out the phrase--"Let's Roll!"--to get things going.
         Perhaps one could even stretch its usage to Elvis, when he said, "Let's Rock and Roll!"  
         Or, maybe the caveman or cavewoman who chiseled the first wheel out of stone got tired of hearing the phrase, "Let's Drag!" and decided to convert it to "Let's Roll!"
         I think I recall reading about the American pioneers in their wagon trains launching their trip to the west with the cry, "Let's Roll!"
         And I'm certain the ancient Greek Gods who sentenced Sisyphus to eternal damnation by having him roll a rock to the top of the mountain tortured him constantly with the chant:  "Let's Roll, Sisyphus....Let's Roll!"
         Then there's the opposite to "Let's Roll!"--"Let's get the hell out of here!"  
         I'm imagine cry rang loud on September 11, but I don't see people clamoring to try and capture its ownership.  Perhaps that statement just doesn't have the commercial punch that "Let's Roll!" does.   

          I did a story a number of months ago about a woman who painted the side of her truck with the words:  "Let's Roll!"  When I interviewed her she was reticent about giving me her name.   She said she was concerned Lisa Beamer might want to collect royalties from her.   She and her daughter painted the words on the side of the truck in a salute to the people of Nine Eleven.   (see story June 10)
         Personally, I'd love to copyright and trademark the words Vigilance™ and Terrorism™ .  If I were their owner, I'd make everyone use them daily, as a reminder none of us can afford to forget they work together--either Terrorism is up and Vigilance is down, or vice versa.   To keep Terrorism from sneaking up, one must keep his or her thumb on Vigilance to counterbalance the teeter-totter of Terrorism.
         I certainly would have a case since I use them so often and so daily.  However, the ownership of these words go back to the dawn of time, when man and woman stepped out of Paradise, naked, cold, afraid, intimidated and faced the first Terrorism--loneliness.

         I'd also like to trademark the words Fear™ , Intimidation™ , and Complacency™ .    Once again, I fear these words have been used since the first thunder bolt cracked and frightened everyone who was draped in woolly mammoth fur into believing the sky was falling.
         Then there are my favorite "Let's Roll!" words--Courage™ , Conviction™  and Right Actions™--the prime ingredients that comprise Vigilance™ .    These words certainly deserve proprietary ownership, for they are hard to come by, and require lots of effort to achieve.  But alas, I believe they belong to the world--to people like Hercules and Amelia Earhart and all those who put self sacrifice ahead of selfishness.
         In the final analysis I'm rooting for the judge to rule the saying "Let's Roll!" belongs to the world.  I'm hoping he doesn't not give ownership of it to either Mrs. Beamer or Mr. Addallah or Mr. Williams.   I tend to believe that "Let's Roll!" is generic, a timeless universal expression alerting listeners that is time to get off the dime and take action.   It is time to "do or die."

Lisa Beamer speaking to the Press prior to flight

         Since the first day I read about Todd Beamer, and his courageous wife, I've been a fan of "Let's Roll!" as a symbol of Vigilance.    It took a great deal of Courage, Conviction and Right Actions for the passengers of Flight 93 to assault their Terrorist guards and to risk their lives to save others.    And, I've championed Lisa Beamer's cause as an example of Courage in the face of Fear, especially when she boarded the same flight her husband took and flew to the same destination he was heading for in the exact same seating configuration he was assigned.   I remember that day well, for it was the same day Congress ran out of the Capitol during an anthrax scare.  I reported how I was upset that not a single Congressperson refused to leave to illustrate the courage of those who aren't afraid of Terrorism's threats.
        As much I favor Lisa Beamer's claim to the slogan, I don't think it's in the best interests of our fight against Terrorism to turn "Let's Roll!" into a commercial or fund raising enterprise.    Some things are sacrosanct,  pure in  their own form, and should not belong to anyone, no matter how virtuous that person might be.

Patch of the California Air National Guard

     In my case, I've offered all of the elements of my web page to the world to use, without reservation.   To make someone pay to use a logo of Vigilance that might save a child's life by spurring a parent on to being more Vigilant seems counter productive to the goal of Vigilance.  I don't think it's right to tax the right to use Vigilance in any form.
       My reasoning is simple.  The price of mustering the Courage, Conviction and Right Actions to defend one's self and his or her family against Terrorism of both the Emotional and Physical kind is expensive enough.  To convert Fear to Courage, or replace Intimidation with Conviction or displace Complacency with Right Action takes great effort, great expense.
       So, I hope the judge rules in favor of Vigilance, and gives the slogan, "Let's Roll," to its rightful owners--the children's children's children.


     Go To Sep 28--"The Fetus & Vigilant Health"

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