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Sept. 11 Museum Responds To Gift Shop Criticism

People walk the grounds at the National September 11 Memorial Museum.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

People walk the grounds at the National September 11 Memorial Museum. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – National September 11 Memorial Museum officials say victims’ families will continue to be consulted regarding merchandise on sale in its gift shop.

Memorial Foundation President Joe Daniels tells the Wall Street Journal the museum will enlist more help of 9/11 family members who sit on the foundation’s board in vetting the products.

PHOTOS: Inside National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum

“Once the public starts coming in, you learn so much,” Daniels told the Wall Street Journal. “We in no way presume to get everything right. We will accept that criticism, absolutely.”

One item in particular that had been criticized has been removed from the museum store. It was a decorative ceramic platter in the shape of the United States, with heart symbols marking the spots where the hijacked planes struck on 9/11.

Other items being sold include coffee mugs, T-shirts and tote bags and there are plans to open a cafe at the site.

Some 9/11 family members, first responders and others have said they are upset about the gift shop because the museum is also where unidentified remains of 9/11 victims are housed.

“It’s a disgrace. The selling of trinkets is a disgrace,” Ted Stankewicz, a retired firefighter from Ladder 119, said earlier this month. “This is a place to honor people. Civilians passed away. Civil servants passed away. This is kind of sacred ground. This is not a money-maker. Shame on them.”

But others disagree.

“It’s not even about a gift,” said one Bronx resident. “It’s about the moment.”

“It’s not a gift shop on a grave site. It’s terrible to depict it that way,” said retired firefighter Ron Parker earlier this month. “It’s a bookstore with a great many heroes. There’s a great many stories about a great many heroes in that bookstore.”

Museum officials have argued that there are many memorials with gift shops, including Pearl Harbor, Oklahoma City and the Holocaust museum.

Daniels said the shop is needed to help support the museum’s operations. He says many visitors want to take home a keepsake to remember the experience.

He also said a donor event earlier this month was subdued and was mischaracterized as a festive, black-tie event and there was no alcohol or food served at the bedrock level of the museum.

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