Steve Kandell's sister died in one of the World Trade Center towers on September 11. Today he writes in BuzzFeed about touring the 9/11 Museum—and gift shop—that open Wednesday, and about remembering someone whose death has from the very moment it happened been mourned, lamented, used, abused, and quasi-avenged by millions of people that she never met.
I think now of every war memorial I ever yawned through on a class trip, how someone else’s past horror was my vacant diversion and maybe I learned something but I didn’t feel anything. Everyone should have a museum dedicated to the worst day of their life and be forced to attend it with a bunch of tourists from Denmark. Annotated divorce papers blown up and mounted, interactive exhibits detailing how your mom’s last round of chemo didn’t take, souvenir T-shirts emblazoned with your best friend’s last words before the car crash. And you should have to see for yourself how little your pain matters to a family of five who need to get some food before the kids melt down. Or maybe worse, watch it be co-opted by people who want, for whatever reason, to feel that connection so acutely.
A tastefully sensational exhibit attached to a store selling NYPD sweatshirts is "the logical endpoint for our most reliably commodifiable national tragedy," Kandell says, finding himself afloat (or maybe submerged) somewhere between outrage and understanding. "It can be of use," he says ultimately of the museum. "It’s fine. I don’t know." Read the entire story here.