We live on the District Line. Our side of the street is Maryland, the other side—the south side–is the District of Columbia. On that morning, I drove into the District to the barber shop, where we watched the terrorist attacks, and the local news showed the crowds of people leaving downtown, walking up Connecticut Avenue. By the time I was done, the plane had hit the Pentagon, government offices had closed, and there were a lot of frightened people.
Personally, I was furious. So I drove down to the office—easy, since all the traffic was headed north—and lit a cigar (AEI was wonderful about that). Within minutes, my Barbara had called with the terrible story about Barbara Olson, the fabulous attorney/lawyer/freedom fighter who had stayed in Washington an extra night to celebrate her husband’s birthday, which put her on the doomed flight to Los Angeles that targeted the Pentagon.
She had somehow reached her husband Ted from the plane and had asked what she could do. A fighter to the end, I have always believed that she organized an assault on the cockpit. Maybe some day Ted will tell us. If he knows.
The Olsons were big fans of Morton’s steak house at the corner of Connecticut and L–Ted’s law firm was in the building, and she had been on the cover of a Morton’s annual report. So it was only mildly surprising that the CEO of Morton’s, Allen Bernstein, called shortly thereafter. “Listen,” he said, “I know this is not the time for this, but in time there’s going to be some sort of memorial event for Barbara, probably at the house.”
“Right,” I said.
Bernstein: “We’re going to cater it. I don’t care how big it’s going to be, we will be there. You just tell me when, where, and how many people.”
“Right,” I said.
Bernstein: “I’m not done. Obviously there’s going to be a fellowship or an endowment at her law school (Cardozo). We’re going to make the first contribution of $10,000.”
And so he did. Seven hundred people attended the dinner at the Olson residence, and the Barbara R. Olson Memorial Scholarship Fund flourishes at Cardozo Law.
Allen Bernstein is with Barbara now, and I cannot think of 9/11 without thinking of the two of them.
Barbara is still with us, young, beautiful and feisty as ever. The current presidential campaign is very much hers. She anticipated Hillary’s battle for the White House, and her book, The Final Days, should be required reading for all those pundits who think they know all about Hillary Clinton. Try this, from page 14:
…Hillary was shaped by liberation theology…radical feminism, and the outer reaches of the political Left. In 1972, she interned for former Communist Party lawyer Robert Truehaft, husband of prominent communist writer Jessica Mitford. Both were Stalinists and rigidly pro-Soviet…
Hillary Clinton has never repudiated her involvement with these extremists or explained her opinion of their beliefs. She hasn’t had to.
Bet you didn’t know that. There’s lots more you don’t know, but should. Listen to Barbara Olson, one of the brave warriors we need to honor on these days.