Outrage over 9/11 Memorial Museum Gift Shop

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A gift shop at the newly unveiled 9/11 Memorial Museum is stirring controversy.

“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 New York Post.

And while you browse the gift shop items, you can see why people would be so offended.

Some of the items for sale include:

- A black and white “Darkness Hoodie” printed with an image of the Twin Towers. The pullover, like other “Darkness” items, bears the words “In Darkness We Shine Brightest.” Price: $39.

- Silk scarves printed with 1986 photos by Paula Barr, including a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline. Another depicts “lunchtime on the WTC Plaza.” They go for $95 each.

- “Survivor Tree” earrings, named after a pear tree that stood in the World Trade Center plaza and survived 9/11. Made of bronze and freshwater pearls, a pair costs $64. A leaf ornament molded from the swamp white oaks at the memorial is said to change from amber to dark brown “and sometimes pink around the time of the 9/11 anniversary.”

- Heart-shaped rocks inscribed with slogans such as “United in Hope” and “Honor.” One rock bears a quote by Virgil that is emblazoned on a massive blue-tiled wall in the museum: “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” It costs $39.

The museum says it is not trying to offend anyone. The museum plans to fund its $63 million operating budget with $24 admission fees and donations since it gets no funding from the government.

“All net proceeds from our sales are dedicated to developing and sustaining” the museum, reads a notice at the store and online, where items are also sold.

I don’t think the intent was to offend. After all, there are gift shops at The Holocaust and Pearl Harbor museum. However, I personally would feel uncomfortable buying a “Darkness Hoodie” or even a teddy bear. Especially considering there are about 8,000 unidentified body parts being stored out of sight in a “remains repository” at the museum’s underground home.

At the end of the day, people grieve in different ways. There was no easy way to open this memorial, especially when emotions are so high. I think the main thing is to remember what happened on that tragic September 11th, whether it’s buying memorabilia or stopping by to pay tribute to those lives lost. We need to stand united and not divided over some stupid gift shop.

And that’s today’s helping of The Online Dish with Maggie.