I’ve read some of the comments from those who expressed outrage at
even the thought of having a 9/11 memorial museum, right there on the
site, to say nothing of a gift shop. How could they monetize such a
tragedy some asked. “I think it’s a revenue-generating tourist
attraction,” said one who 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,” And that is so understandable.
However, so is the other side. A member of the museum’s board of
directors who lost his son — also a firefighter — in the attack, hopes
that the revenue generated will help maintain the museum. He said, “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. In other
words, lest we forget…
Some say okay to the museum, but question the gift shop, Organizers of
the museum say that the cost of operating it, about $65 million a
year, will require the support generated from both the gift shop and
the museum’s admission fees — but such support will also allow them to
maintain the museum’s outside memorial at no charge to the public.
Yes, the museum has an admission fee, and I personally feel it is high
($24 for an adult). I would think that ought to be the cost for the
whole family, but I do not know the whys and wherefores of pricing for
such a thing so I have no real way to evaluate that.
There will always be issues that cause conflict when there are
conflicting emotions involved. You can’t fight a feeling. But you also
can’t have something like a memorial museum — so no one will forget
that we are vulnerable and that there are those who hate us and choose
to inflict their ill will upon us, while remembering those who rose to
the occasion and brought out the best in themselves and in others by
how they responded to such devastation — without incurring the cost
involved in having it.
When it comes to feelings vs. either common sense or business sense,
feelings will always win; but there are still considerations for those
who feel that New York City has let them down, or simply trashed over
the memory of their loved ones who suffered so as a result of that
horrible event. It is those very particular considerations that may
finally soften the hearts and the voices of those who feel so
Those who worked hard on the plans for this memorial took everything
into consideration. They knew they could not please everyone — that
goes without saying. Yet it would be impossible for me to even imagine
that the planners thought to deliberately offend or shock or degrade
anyone or anyone’s memory by their idea made manifest in the resultant
museum and gift shop. Apparently the public still wishes to educate
itself about what happened — the gift shop sells DVDs and books that
fill that need — and have a way and a place to pause and ponder, to
reflect on the reality of that day, the amazing community spirit that
came to life in a moment, and the ever-enduring strength of our
There may be much the average non-personally-involved person does not
know about that day, that event, but we do know that the whole country
was involved on the feeling level. We came together in our thoughts
and our prayers (even if some of those “praying” did not believe in
God), and many of those who were in the vicinity came together
physically to help. They — we — were all involved with our feelings.
People who ordinarily might not give a hoot about anything felt the
giant dent that some malevolent force made into the structure of our
life. The dent was felt from coast to coast, from country to country,
and even around the world.
Every life that is ever lost had value. Every life that was touched by
that loss has value. Should we really not remember them in a way that
many people can understand? When there is a traffic accident at a
certain curve in a road and a teenager dies, someone thinks to put up
a memorial of some kind at that site. It may not be permanent, but it
stays as long as it is allowed and as long as it survives. When a
child is murdered, memorials are created somewhere nearby to recognize
the significance of that child’s life; to let the parents, siblings,
and friends know that even strangers care. People need to remember,
share in the remembering with others, and they need to participate in
that remembering in the biggest way they can.
Several weeks ago I returned from a visit to The Holy Land. Everyone
who lives there does not agree on the importance or significance of
Jesus having lived and died in that state of Israel, mainly because
they do not all agree on the significance and importance of Jesus
himself. Yet regardless of how Jesus is viewed by all who live there,
they all know that Jesus has great significance to many people around
the world. All the places in Israel that correspond to something
meaningful to those who choose to visit there have become memorial
sites. And yes, there are certain admittance fees at certain sites,
and the sites are complete with gift shops: The place where Jesus was
born, the river where he was baptized, the place where he died; the
sea where he fished with his apostles. Even the churches have gift
shops. It was a little startling at first to see so many sources for
buying souvenirs at so many “sacred sites,” but then one realizes:
Where better to buy a cross or a crucifix than in The Holy Land? Where
better to buy a book about the life and times of Jesus? Where better
to buy a map of Jesus’ travels? And even as we know crosses and books
about Jesus and The Holy Land can be purchased online and practically
anywhere in the world, there is something more significant about
getting them there, where Jesus actually lived and died.
My personal sense of this issue is that to not commemorate the event
at the site where it happened would be like ignoring all the places in
Israel that are meaningful to people because of Jesus simply because
everyone does not believe in Jesus, does not care one way or the other
about the man who lived so long ago, or who feel it’s too one-sided
for those who believe otherwise to make so much of this Jesus that
their whole nation appears to be dedicated to the tourist trade of
keeping The Holy Land alive.
It is always about perspective, even as we cannot help seeing our
perspective through the feelings that often cloud the lenses of our
eyes. No feeling is wrong. All feelings are just that: feelings. When
we care about each other, we live that caring; and whether or not
everyone agrees with what we do, if they can sense the intention in
our hearts, they will know how we feel.
And in that, we are pretty much one.
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She
writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email
her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve read some of the comments from those who expressed outrage at