Facebook Message Brings Mon Gjonbalaj’s Uniform Shirt to the 9/11 Memorial Museum

Facebook Message Brings Mon Gjonbalaj’s Uniform Shirt to the 9/11 Memorial Museum

Mon Gjonbalaj’s uniform shirt on view in the exhibition In Memoriam. Photo by Michael Hnatov.

Mon Gjonbalaj, a maintenance worker with ABM Janitorial Industries, wore a uniform every day to his job at the World Trade Center’s South Tower. A proud member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ for 30 years, Mon greatly enjoyed the work environment at the renowned landmark he took pride in cleaning. He often showed up an hour early to share a cup of coffee with his follow colleagues, who nicknamed him Jambalaya due to his intricate Albanian last name.

Nearing retirement age in 2001, Mon was not yet ready to leave his job. “He was going to turn 66 on Oct. 31, 2001, but he wanted to continue working,” said his son Sal, one of three brothers. “He was so attached to that building. He didn't want to let go. It was his second home.”

When hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower on the morning of September 11, Mon was at work on the 86th floor. The father of four managed to call his family, explaining that he was trapped and telling his son to be strong and to keep the family together.

In the years following the attacks, Mon’s children sought different ways to keep their father’s memory alive and to honor his strong connection to the World Trade Center.

In 2016, the Museum received a Facebook message from Sal, who offered to donate to its collection the ABM uniform shirt that his father had worn to work on Sept. 10, 2001. The Museum acquired the shirt and recently rotated it onto view in its exhibition In Memoriam. Visitors can take in Mon’s shirt while learning more about his life — and the lives of the 2,982 other individuals killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, and Feb. 26, 1993, attacks — on the gallery’s touchscreen tables.

In addition to reaching out via social media, anyone interested in donating materials in memory of a loved one — objects, photographs or audio remembrances — is encouraged to contact the Museum at collections@911memorial.org or (212) 312-8800 x3. There is no end date for receiving items memorializing the individual victims of the 2001 and 1993 attacks.

By Tara Prout, 9/11 Memorial Exhibition and Registries Manager