September 11 is a day no American will soon forget. Al Qaeda's attack on our soil was traumatic, but the bravery and camaraderie we displayed immediately afterward proved we as a country don't give up easily. That's why I'm sure many people initially welcomed the idea of a 9/11 Memorial Museum. Indeed, the museum displays some incredible artifacts from that fateful day, such as remnants of the towers and the wreck of Ladder Co. 3’s firetruck. But, all of those sincere remembrances are now tainted by a new feature - the 9/11 Memorial gift shop.
The NY Post broke the shameful story over the weekend. Here's just a glimpse of what visitors can purchase in the shop:
The 9/11 museum’s cavernous boutique offers a vast array of souvenir goods. For example: FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority Police T-shirts ($22) and caps ($19.95); earrings molded from leaves and blossoms of downtown trees ($20 to $68); cop and firefighter charms by Pandora and other jewelers ($65); “United We Stand” blankets.
What, no World Trade Center shot glasses or firefighter teddy bears?
Some who lost loved ones on 9/11 are understandably upset and offended by the gift store's presence:
“To me, it’s the crassest, most insensitive thing to have a commercial enterprise at the place where my son died,” Diane Horning said.
“Here is essentially our tomb of the unknown. To sell baubles I find quite shocking and repugnant,” said Horning, who also objects to the museum cafe.
“I think it’s a money-making venture to support inflated salaries, and they’re willing to do it over my son’s dead body.”
Politicians are starting to voice their criticism as well:
Golden, a Republican, said the souvenir shop is just another slap in the face to those affected by the terror attacks, who will be forced to pay a hefty admission fee when the museum opens to the public next week.
“It’s adding insult to injury to charge $24,” he said. “And then to have these types of items being sold for profit is just wrong.”
I can't help but share their frustration. How can this museum stand to turn Americans' pain into profit?
CEO Joe Daniels tried to justify the store by insisting the organization "relies on private fund-raising private fund-raising, gracious donations and revenue from ticketing and carefully selected keepsake items for retail," to stay afloat. But, something just doesn't seem right here.
If I were Daniels, I'd ditch the merchandise and leave the focus on the actual memorial. The 9/11 museum should be a place of reflection, not retail.