“My Name is Betty Ong…”

Take a few minutes to listen to the last phone call of Betty Ong, a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11 before it hit the World Trade Center, eight years ago today on September 11, 2001. Just over four minutes of the phone call were replayed at the 9-11 Commission hearings. The recording stands as a powerful tribute to one of the ordinary people who carried on heroically, doing their jobs and trying to save others, even as top government and military officials were floundering.

Ong is calm and matter-of-fact as she describes what is occuring to skeptical airline personnel on the ground. She is forced to repeat the same basic details again and again: “Ok. Our Number 1 got stabbed. Our purser is stabbed. Nobody knows who stabbed who, and we can’t even get up to business class right now cause nobody can breathe…” Unfortunately, American Airlines chose not to pass on what Ong was telling them to the military or even the FAA. Beginning within minutes of the hijacking, Ong remained on the phone for 23 minutes, calmly relaying information up to seconds before the impact.  Her last words were “Pray for us. Pray for us.”

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