The new 9/11 Memorial is set to open to the public on Wednesday.
The "private opening" has been going on since last week, and family members of those killed in the attacks have been taking advantage of a sort of soft-opening of the museum.
The president spoke there last week. Many of the remains of those who went unidentified are entombed there, making the museum part memorial, part mausoleum.
The memorial itself is getting rave reviews. The gift shop, however, has some family members upset.
Can you blame them?
The memorial is one thing, but a gift shop that sells sweatshirts, scarves and dog vests seems like a little much. I mean, I don't have a problem with people wanting to buy a 9/11 sweatshirt I guess. If you really WANT people to know that you are "not forgetting," as if anyone who was alive that day ever COULD forget.
But earrings molded from the leaves of the so-called Survivor Tree, a pear tree that inexplicably survived the fall of the twin towers while all around it the plaza landscape was devastated?
A leaf ornament that is said to change from amber to dark brown and sometimes pink around the 9/11 anniversary. Really?
Pandora bracelets with cop and firefighter charms? Stuffed Labrador retrievers wearing search-and-rescue vests?
All of these things are very nice, but to put them in the store you get corralled through on the way out of the museum feels a little tacky. You have to pay $24 to get into the museum in the first place, so the money grab at the end is unnecessary.
But the museum has a $63 million operating budget. I guess they have to pay the bills somehow.
I don't even really like the gift shops at the end of the art museum tour. Buying the Monet print feels cheap after you've seen the real thing.
But this gift shop really takes that to a new level. One of the parents of the dead said to sell trinkets over the grave of her son is shocking and repugnant.
I have to agree.