9/11 Memorial Museum's gift shop sparks outrage with some families

9/11 Memorial Museum's gift shop sparks outrage with some families

Credit: Getty Images

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16: A rose stands at the 9/11 Memorial as One World Trade Center (TOP C), now the tallest building in the United States, continues to be constructed on May 16, 2013 in New York City. After more than 11 years of construction and planning, One World Trade Center reached its final height of 1,776 feet last week. When it opens for business in 2014, One World Trade center will be home to companies including Conde Nast and Vantone Holdings China Center. One World Trade Center is built on the site where the September 11, 2001 attacks toppled the original World Trade Center towers. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Print
Email
|

by Kristen Hamill, CNN

CNN

Posted on May 20, 2014 at 4:49 AM

A gift shop set to open to the public on Wednesday at the 9/11 Memorial Museum has sparked controversy among some victims' families.

Among the items sold: hats emblazoned with the FDNY symbol, search and rescue stuffed-dog animals and a slew of books relating to the attack and building of the memorial.

Organizers of the museum acknowledge that the cost of operation, about $65 million yearly, will require the support of revenue generated from the gift shop, and the museum's admission fees, with $24 for an adult. It will also help maintain the free admission to the museum's outside memorial.

"To provide an opportunity to buy a keepsake and have those proceeds support this open and free memorial is something I would do seven days a week," said Joe Daniels, president of the National September 11 Memorial Museum.

He says the gift shop is situated in a "respectful space" in the museum and notes that the No. 1 sellers so far are the DVDs and books they sell that educate the public about the history behind the events of September 11.

But some in the 9/11 community are bristling at the idea of monetizing their families' final resting places.

"I think it's a revenue-generating tourist attraction," Jim Riches said of the museum. Riches, who is retired from the New York City Fire Department, lost his son, a firefighter, in the attacks.

"Basically, they're making money off of my son's dead body. I think that's disgusting," Riches said.

Also at issue? The roughly 8,000 unidentified human remains that will be housed in the museum. Riches likens the accompanying admission fee to "charging people to get into a cemetery."

"Let's bring the remains up to a respectable location ... above ground with an eternal light. Everybody can visit them, you won't pay $24 to get in there," he said.

But Lee Ielpi, a member of the museum's board of directors who lost his son Jonathan, a firefighter, in the attack, hopes that the revenue generated will help maintain the museum.

"We have an obligation to society ... 20 years from now, we need to make sure the people that step foot on this plaza know where they're stepping and when they go into the entrance and go into the museum, they need to know what they're going to see there," he said.

Print
Email
|