The National September 11 Memorial & Museum at Ground Zero opens May 21, and early reports have said the museum presents a heart-wrenching tribute to the first responders and civilians who lost their lives in the 2001 terrorist attacks. But the museum's gift shop tells another story. After viewing exhibits displaying artifacts and recordings recovered from Ground Zero, visitors will find souvenirs for purchase in the 9/11 museum gift shop. The souvenirs range from Twin Tower scarves to heart-shaped rocks imprinted with inspirational slogans. And, not too unsurprisingly, the intersection of commerce and a tragic event hasn't gone over too well with the families of the victims.
“To me, it’s the crassest, most insensitive thing to have a commercial enterprise at the place where my son died,” Diane Horning, whose son died in the attacks, told The New York Daily News. "To sell baubles I find quite shocking."
The 9/11 museum, which has a hefty admission fee of $24, features several different collections, including "Rescue & Recovery," "Oral Histories" and "The Original WTC." The interactive Memorial Exhibition allows visitors to learn more about each person who died during the attacks, and personal artifacts will also be displayed on a rotating basis. But the 9/11 museum gift shop seems to undermine these thoughtful displays and, worst of all, show a glaring insensitivity to the victims' families.
“These people are suffering," said Ground Zero demolition supervisor John Feal. "They don’t need to be reaching into their pockets."
In case you're curious, here are some of the most questionable souvenirs for sale at the 9/11 museum store:
9/11 Memorial Umbrella
Description: "Show your support for the 9/11 Memorial with this collapsible umbrella. This umbrella features the Swamp White Oak tree that can be found on the Memorial plaza under a black exterior with the Memorial logo on the top."
WTC Tote Bag Pointing Out The 9/11 Memorial
Description: "Show your support for the 9/11 Memorial with this map tote bag."
Memorial Pool And Lights iPhone 5 Case
Description: "Show your support for the 9/11 Memorial with this beautiful iPhone case. The case is a hard, clear snap on, that comes with four changeable background images of the Memorial Pool, and Tribute Lights."
Silk Scarf Lunchtime On The WTC Plaza
Description: "This scarf features Paula Barr's panoramic photograph, entitled 'Lunchtime on the WTC Plaza,' of downtown workers and visitors gathering on the World Trade Center's plaza, which sometimes served as a public space for concerts and other outdoor programs. The vast scale of the Twin Towers, the reflective surfaces and striking gothic arches created by the steel tridents inspired photographers to depict them from every perspective."
Survivor Tree Jewelry — Blossom Wire Earrings
Description: "Jewelry designed with hand painted bronze with matte silver plate and enamel highlights and freshwater pearls; inspired by the buds and blossoms of the Callery Pear Survivor Tree."
Search And Rescue Plush Dog
Description: "In response to the events of September 11, 2001, twenty US&R task forces and their canine teams worked at the World Trade Center site, and five teams responded to the Pentagon. Our Search & Rescue soft plush dogs are available in 3 breeds: Yellow Labrador, Black Labrador & German Shepherd."
Survivor Tree Mousepad
Description: "This mousepad features an image of the Survivor Tree in bloom with the text 'The Survivor Tree, Resilience. Renewal. Hope' written beneath against a white background."
Darkness Twin Towers Hoodie
Description: "This pullover features the words 'In Darkness We Shine Brightest' repeated to form the shape of the original WTC Towers. Underneath the image of the towers is the same quote in blue writing. The pullover comes only in black."
Images: 9/11 museum