9/11 memorial gift shop gives some a piece of history, offends others

Posted at 11:05 PM, May 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-18 23:05:38-04

NEW YORK (PIX11) — The 9/11 Memorial and Museum will open to the public this week, but until then, has been open to people who lost family members, were first responders or survivors of the attacks.

Some were upset to learn that the memorial – which, for some families who were never able to bury loved ones – now has a gift shop selling memorabilia.

Proceeds from items sold at the museum store will help keep the museum running – it has not received federal, state or city funds yet. But some point out that the museum already has another source of revenue – ticket sales. An adult ticket costs $24.

A spokesman for the museum said the store had “carefully selected keepsake items” – but others called some of the products tasteless. Some merchandise included a “Darkness Hoodie” – with the shapes of the Twin Towers on the front, as well as jewelry modeled after the “Survivor Tree,” the lone tree that managed to survive the attacks. Other items include NYPD and FDNY hats and T-shirts, not to mention a firefighter uniform for your dog.


A sweatshirt for sale at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. (9/11 Museum website)

To New Yorker Stephanie Medina, shopping at the site where so many died seems wrong.

“It doesn’t feel right at all,” Medina said. “It’s something where you go to respect. To honor. Not to go buy stuff.”

But for some who were not in New York City when the Twin Towers fell, like Mary Wilkins, of Nebraska, buying from the museum store is one way of supporting victims.

“It’s kind of peaceful to know that we are supporting some of their families, too, because our hearts broke for them that day,” Wilkins said.

Psychologist Jeffrey Gardere said he understands both victims’ families emotions at commercializing a tragedy, but also the need to have a tangible reminder of what happened.

“I think for people who never saw the World Trade towers, buying these mementos is, perhaps, a way for them to incorporate something that they never were able to touch or see or feel,” Gardere said.

A source close to the museum said that already 41,000 members of the 9/11 community have come to visit the museum, and of them, nearly 10 percent have bought items from the store to suppose the museum.

The museum will open to the public on May 21st and will be free on that first day.