'I Don't Think They Should Have Sent Somebody To Accept An Award For A Cemetery'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some 9/11 family members are outraged after the National September 11 Memorial & Museum was celebrated by an attraction association at Disneyland.

The museum was honored by the Themed Entertainment Association for extraordinary cultural achievement, a museum spokesperson said.

“The award recognizes the museum for extraordinary cultural achievement, and it is an honor to continue to be acknowledged around the world as an institution having a global impact,” the museum said in a statement.

Some 9/11 relatives said by appearing at the same black-tie dinner, which also honored a Harry Potter exhibit and a Chinese aquarium, the museum disrespected dead heroes.

James Riches, whose firefighter son, Jimmy, died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, said the people running the museum have turned it into an amusement park, 1010 WINS’ John Montone reported.

“I don’t think they should have sent somebody there to accept an award for a cemetery,” Riches told CBS2’s Alice Gainer. “It’s supposed to be a place that’s dignified and respectful where our loved ones are to be buried. It’s not the metropolitan museum.”

PHOTOS9/11 Museum Dedication | Inside National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum

Others agreed.

“Even to accept this award in such a public manner it’s outrageous and it is hurtful and it’s unethical and it’s immoral,” said Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son, Christian, also died that day. “This says that they do not have a moral compass and they are focused on making money, this is a business endeavor.”

A museum spokesperson said it received no money for the reward.

The museum was the subject of much criticism after it opened last May. Some were angered by the presence of the museum’s gift shop, which sells coffee mugs, T-shirts and tote bags; a formal event at the museum attended by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and plans to open a cafe at the site where nearly 3,000 people were killed in the 2001 terrorist attack — some of whom’s unidentified remains are housed at the museum.

“They went to Disneyland park and got a theme award. I mean this is not what the 9/11 memorial museum is supposed to be,” Riches said.

Gainer spoke to several people who visited the museum on Monday and they seemed to lean against the museum accepting the award.

“No, I don’t agree with that at all,” said Bernadette Geldreich of San Diego.

“The museum is really well done, so I think any award was well deserved. So I don’t have any problem with that,” added Doug Allen of Colorado.

“No, that’s wrong,” said Lauriel Daniel of South Dakota.

“I’m not real sure about that award. I think it’s great that they’re acknowledged for what they’ve done and people are more aware because I think people forget,” said Sandy Kieras of Chicago.

“If it offends families who have victims from 9/11 then they shouldn’t accept the award,” added Sam Allen of Colorado.

Themed Entertainment Association said the museum displays excellence in the way it conveys its powerful message, Gainer reported.


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