On the morning of September 11, 2001, the restaurant staff at Windows on the World went about their business as usual on the top floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. They prepared food in the kitchen, served breakfast to the tourists and businessmen outside, and started getting the lunch menu ready.
Within the next few hours, 73 members of the restaurant staff would be dead.
The impact of 9/11 on the Windows on the World restaurant workers has not been forgotten. Every year since the attack, a dedicated group of survivors and organizers has held a vigil to remember their fallen coworkers and friends.
On the 20th anniversary this past weekend, a special vigil was held on the roof of 110 William Street. With a perfect view of One World Trade Center, approximately 45 Windows on the World workers were joined by politicians, dignitaries, and friends for speeches, a candle lighting, and moments of silence.
“Today we honor the 73 restaurant workers who died on September 11,” said Fekkak Mamdouh, an East Elmhurst resident and former worker at Windows on the World. “We should never forget them, their struggle, and their sacrifice.”
Former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the event’s keynote speaker. She discussed the ongoing sacrifices that restaurant workers make during times of hardship, including 9/11 and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m here today to thank all of you for honoring those who were lost and who continue to work and serve,” Clinton said. “People who are working in service, restaurants, and hospitals are always working to make this a better country, and today we remember those workers who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
A number of local politicians were also in attendance, including State Senator John Liu. Speaking to our paper, Liu discussed the ways in which essential workers continue to be a source of inspiration for their communities.
“Twenty years seems like a long time, but I know we all remember September 11, 2001, like it was yesterday,” Liu said. “But as terrible as that day was, in the coming days and years it brought out the best in people across New York City and beyond. We remember the first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice, but we must remember all the service workers that died that fateful day. No one was collateral damage. Every death mattered.”