Labor’s International Hall of Fame to induct 9/11 union victims

DETROIT – The 636 unionists who died in the infamous al-Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on New York and Washington, as well as in the commandeered plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, will be inducted as a group into Labor’s International Hall of Fame on May 17.

The Detroit-based institution added one guest speaker at the ceremony will be Cathie Ong, sister of an unionized flight attendant murdered by the attack that day.

Cathie Ong’s sister, Betty Ong, was on board American Airlines Flight 11, one of two planes al-Qaeda flew into the World Trade Center. The plane crashes brought the Twin Towers to the ground, killing almost 3,000 people, including most of the unionists.

“We are extremely proud to be able to honor the legacy of these true heroes of American history,” the hall’s board said. “Many of those who perished on Sept. 11 were serving the American public and gave their lives in service. All who perished are missing in our hearts, but not in our memories. These heroes gave the ultimate price with their service.” The ceremony honoring the unionists will be at the AFL-CIO.

The Sept. 11 victims will join more than 100 people enshrined in the 39-year-old institution. Those honorees made contributions to the advancement of labor rights.

The 636 unionists were more than 20 percent of all those who died. Of them, 343 were New York Fire Fighters who rushed into the World Trade Center to try to save others before the Twin Towers collapsed. Their Catholic priest was also killed.

The attacks on New York and Washington, combined with the crash in Shanksville, Pa., of the fourth terrorist-commandeered plane — intended to reach the nation’s Capitol — “will forever be seared into our nation’s history,” Hall of Fame board members said. IAFF will host the Washington induction ceremony honoring the dead.

Besides the 343 Fire Fighters and 60 police officers who rushed into the Twin Towers to save others, another 73 workers – many of them unionists — died trapped in the Windows on the World, a restaurant on the top floors of the Trade Center’s North Tower. The commandeered plane that hit the Pentagon killed 70 civilians and 55 military personnel. Flight Attendants and Airline Pilots were among those killed on four planes used as weapons by hijacking terrorists. Approximately two dozen unions lost members on Sept, 11, 2001.

The Twin Towers collapsed nearly two hours after the first passenger plane being used as a weapon crashed into the North Tower at 8:56 a.m. The second plane hit the South Tower minutes later.

Photo: WTC memorial in lower Manhattan. Juan_Carlos_Cruz // CC 2.0


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.