By Corky Siemaszko New York Daily News
That cringeworthy U.S.-shaped cheese platter with hearts marking the spots where Al Qaeda terrorists crashed the hijacked planes has been yanked from the gift shop at the 9/11 museum. And the rest of the items on sale at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum are going to be subjected to a smell test by relatives of the victims who sit on the board.
“We have to remember that the sensitivity around 9/11 is so high,” Joe Daniels, president of the memorial foundation, told The Wall Street Journal.
The gift shop, which also sells such potentially tacky trinkets such as the $39 “Darkness” hoodie, a German Shepherd Search & Rescue Dog plush toy for $19.95, a 9/11 Memorial water bottle for $20.95, and “Survivor Tree” earrings priced to move at various prices, has been accused of cashing-in on the nation’s pain by critics of the museum.
Some of the victims’ relatives contend there shouldn’t be any gift shop on what most Americans consider sacred ground.
Daniels said they need the shop to help pay the bills. And museum officials point out that they have repeatedly reached out to family members for their input into the $700 million memorial, which opened to the public earlier this month.
Also, gift shops at memorials are not a new thing.
Arlington National Cemetery has a small bookstore that sells things such as magnets, lapel pins and T-shirts to commemorate the Tomb of the Unknowns.
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. also has a museum shop, which sells books, menorahs, “Never Again” patches, and World War II posters.
There are also gift shops at the memorial to the Oklahoma City bombing and at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
Still, a gift shop at the September 11 museum continues to stir up strong emotions with some of those who lost loved ones on 9/11.
“It’s crass commercialism on a literally sacred site,” Kurt Horning, whose son Matthew died in the 9/11 attacks, said last week after the museum opened. “It’s a burial ground. We don’t think there should be those things offered on that spot.”
There are other issues about the museum that continue to rankle some of the relatives, especially those who never got a body to bury.
On Tuesday, relatives of some of the unidentified WTC victims renewed their demand that the remains housed in the bowels of the new museum be moved to an above-ground tomb.
In response, museum officials re-released a “summary of outreach” effort that outlined attempts made to gauge relatives’ opinions on how best to give the dead their due.
It states that a fraction of victims’ families opposed the design that includes “a repository for the remains at bedrock, along with a private space for families only.”
Relatives were also infuriated by reports that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and 50 other big shots threw a booze-filled bash at the museum after it opened.