Before joining the security team at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, Mary Santos worked as a security guard for Summit Security at the Twin Towers. Recently, she donated the blazer she wore to her job in the South Tower to the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
On the day of the 2001 attacks, 11 of Santos’ colleagues were killed. Santos, who was off-duty on 9/11, says she intends her donation of the blazer to serve as a tribute to her fallen colleagues. She believes they could have escaped, but they instead stayed behind to help.
Santos remembers her coworkers were "like a family" and that they socialized together outside of work. The blazer represents more than the loss she and so many others suffered that day. It is also a reminder of the working lives that Santos and other security professionals built at the Twin Towers.
After admittedly struggling with survivor’s guilt following 9/11, Santos returned to the World Trade Center site to work as a security guard for the 9/11 Memorial in 2014. Here, she helps visitors and watches over artifacts in the museum’s historical exhibition. The woman who once protected the towers now stands guard over their history.
Listen to Santos talk about her blazer.
By Dr. Joshua Walker, 9/11 Memorial Associate Oral Historian