Riuscì a chiamare il suo procuratore generale marito, Ted Olson, twice from the back of the plane where the terroristi, armati di coltelli e taglierini, ha ammassato i passeggeri. She reported the hijacking aboard American Airlines Flight 77 and asked what she could convey to the captain.
Secondo il 9/11 Commission report, Olson was one of only two people who was able to make phone calls to loved ones from the plane, aside from flight attendant Renee May. Vent'anni dopo, Barbara’s husband still marvels at her bravery and calm in the final moments of her life.
“Fino ad oggi, I don’t know how in the world she managed to do it,” said Ted Olson, who received the calls at his Justice Department office in Washington, D.C.
The two phone calls were very brief and both ended abruptly. Two hijacked planes had already crashed into the World Trade Center and Olson’s in-flight call prompted Ted Olson to warn others at the FBI and Justice Department that a third plane was under attack.
“Barbara was an extraordinarily resourceful person,” Olson told Fox News. “She was also a fighter. She would not have taken this quietly.”
Olson calls his late wife “a quintessential American” who believed strongly in herself and in a country that would allow her to achieve her dreams and ambitions. At the time of her death when the plane crashed into the Pentagon, she was a frequent TV commentator on outlets like CNN and Fox News as well as an author of a book about Hillary Clinton.
Barbara soon became the high-profile victim of the terrorist attacks and her husband, who had fame in successfully arguing the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case, was also thrust into the spotlight as the public face of grief.
“Barbara’s was the first face that went up on television screens to the American people because people knew who Barbara was,” Olson said.
Olson had to make a choice fairly quickly. Would he understandably retreat in the midst of sudden grief, or would he choose to carry on with work and with life. Olson said he made a conscious decision to fight on, just as he expects Barbara would have done.
“I felt overwhelmingly the weight of all of the disaster,” Olson recalled. “It was personalized to me but it was also devastating for our nation.”
“I felt some responsibility to speak about it so that we could communicate the idea that we’ve been attacked but we will not be defeated. And I also felt some need to talk about Barbara because she was such an incredible person and she was so tragically murdered. I felt that I could be a little bit of her voice.”
Now in 2021, that decision to live still guides Olson today. He’ll be 81 il sett. 11. Ancora, far from retirement, he works full-time as a partner at Gibson, non so & Crutcher LLP in Washington D.C.
He found love again after the terrorist attacks and will be married for 15 anni. Knowing how precious life is, Olson decided to dig down deep and seize life, piuttosto che “curl up in a corner.”
“It’s survival,” Olson said of his mindset of resiliency. “You can either retire and disappear. Or you can embrace the opportunities that you’re given by the gift of life in the first place.”
“I felt very strongly that Barbara would have wanted that,” Olson added. “That was the kind of person Barbara was.”
FINAL ACTS OF BRAVERY
Barbara Olson wasn’t supposed to be on the ill-fated plane.
She had initially planned to fly out to Los Angeles to appear on Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” show on Sept. 10. But she changed her travel schedule to be with Ted Olson for his birthday, which is Sept. 11. The couple had planned a celebration dinner the night before.
The morning of Sept. 11, Ted Olson woke early, as was his habit, to leave their home in the northern Virginia suburbs before 6 a.m. to beat the rush hour traffic into Washington, D.C. Barbara was still home. The couple talked over the phone before she boarded her flight at Dulles airport in what Olson recalls was likely a routine conversation about wishing his wife a good trip.