Society

Is It Offensive To Have A Gift Shop In The 9/11 Museum?

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

The 9/11 Museum’s gift shop carries NYPD and FDNY t-shirts, hats and charms by Pandora, “United We Stand” blankets, heart-shaped rocks that say “Honor” and toy fire trucks.

Susan Edelman of the New York Post called it an offensive display, although memorial sites across the globe like the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., have gift shops.

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“To me, it’s the crassest, most insensitive thing to have a commercial enterprise at the place where my son died,” Diane Horning told The Post.

Horning never recovered the remains of her son Matthew, 26, who died on Sept. 11, 2001. His remains are likely stored with about 8,000 unidentified body parts in the museum’s underground “remains repository.”

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“Here is essentially our tomb of the unknown. To sell baubles I find quite shocking and repugnant,” Horning said of the museum gift shop and 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.”

A notice at the store and online says “All net proceeds from our sales are dedicated to developing and sustaining” the museum.

The New York Times reported that the museum is primarily for tourists, while memories of 9/11 are far too vivid and close for those who shared in the tragedy.

“Look, it’s not the Natural History Museum,” said Jim Riches, a former chief in the Fire Department, whose firefighter son, Jim Jr., died on Sept. 11. “I know plenty of guys who won’t go down there because they were there for months when it was Dante’s inferno. The memories are just too much. They simply won’t go back.”

Some told The Times they don’t need a public exhibition to remember what happened.

“These people are suffering, and they don’t need to be reaching into their pockets,” John Feal, a Ground Zero demolition supervisor who runs the FealGood Foundation, told The Post. “The museum could have gone six days without asking for money.”

Another sign in the store says “made possible through the generosity of Paul Napoli and Marc Bern,” law partners at a firm that made $200 million in taxpayer fees and expenses after the city was sued by 10,000 emergency workers, according to the Post.

They donated $5 million to the museum.

“They could have given that $5 million to the sick and suffering — their former clients,” Feal told The Post.

Sources: New York Post, New York Times