(New York, NY) – At 9:00am, the National September 11 Memorial Museum opens its doors to the public. And it only took 12 years, 8 months, and 10 days to get here.
The museum is meant to pay tribute to and honor the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives during the September 11, 2001, attacks, which were ordered by al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden, including those who died at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, PA. The six individuals who died in the World Trade Center terrorist attack on February 26, 1993, are also memorialized.
Two pools of flowing water now occupy the footprints of the Twin Towers. The museum itself is subterranean. Artifacts from the World Trade Center site will be on display.
But the museum’s opening – specifically, its real purpose and its contents – have created yet another controversy in a long line of fights and disagreements which began on September 12, 2001.
The museum site contains the unidentified remains of victims from that terrible day. Many families object to the mixing of a museum with a graveyard.
“This is hallowed ground,” said a family member of a September 11 victim, speaking on condition of anonymity. “This should be a memorial, not a museum. There are lots of other places to stick museums. Why does it have to be on the spot where so many people died?”
Perhaps the biggest controversy is the museum’s gift shop. Visitors will be able to buy a host of souvenirs to help remember their somber visit. Many don’t believe a gift shop is appropriate at a location called “sacred” by President Obama.
“To care for the Memorial and Museum, our organization relies on private fundraising, gracious donations and revenue from ticketing and carefully selected keepsake items for retail,” said Michael Frazier, a senior vice-president of the museum, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Plus, we get $24 a head,” added a museum spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, referencing the museum’s normal admission fee.
Some of the “carefully selected keepsake items for retail” include:
|National September 11 Memorial Museum Gift Shop|
|Buttons||Osama bin Laden Plushy|
|Cell Phone Cases||Plush Dogs|
The sale of any of these items is controversial, but none so much as the Osama bin Laden Plushy.
“We realize that some might find it in poor taste,” said a museum spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, “but it’s really not that bad. And you can’t have September 11 without bin Laden.”
The anonymous spokesman pointed out the doll’s features:
- ability to hide for almost 10 years
- wind-up walking feature
- pull-string speech feature
- says “Death to America!”
- says “Don’t forget to visit the museum’s snack bar!”
The independent Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which helped push for the museum’s creation in the first place, had no comment on the bin Laden plushy controversy.
“We’re just glad to see a museum getting so much attention,” said an IMLS spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “No matter how ghoulish the reason.”