9/11 Memorial Employee Inspired to Become US Citizen

9/11 Memorial mechanic Jose Mendes poses for a photo next to the Survivor Tree on Memorial plaza.
Jose Mendes, 9/11 Memorial mechanic. Photo by 9/11 Memorial Staff.

Jose Mendes is an avid Benfica soccer fan from Portugal who recently became an American citizen, in part, to continue his work at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Mendes has been a mechanic with the 9/11 Memorial engineer department for the past two years.

There’s something about working at the memorial that makes you want to be part of America, Mendes said through a translator. “I’m privileged to work here,” he said in English. And last week, he became an American citizen.  

His work responsibilities include repairs on the plaza, replacing damaged stone pavers and restoring the grates that surround the more than 400 swamp white oak trees.

Mendes mainly works during visiting hours and enjoys interacting with visitors. He says many visitors ask to take pictures while he works on the stone pavers.  

September 11 has significant meaning for him because he arrived in the U.S. on that day 25 years ago.

“I watched the second plane hit the tower live from my TV,” said Mendes, who was at his home in Yonkers, NY on 9/11.

Mendes is married with two children and has three grandchildren with one grandchild on the way.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff 

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