What the 9/11 Museum Was Like for One Victim's Brother

Steve Kandell reflects on having your worst day turned into a tourist attraction
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2014 12:40 PM CDT
What the 9/11 Museum Was Like for One Victim's Brother
United States President Barack Obama speaks at the dedication ceremony for the National 9/11 Memorial Museum on May 15, 2014 in New York City.   (AP Photo/ John Angelillo, Pool)

After Steve Kandell's sister was killed in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, his family objected to the media referring to her as a hero. Shari "was just a person who happened to have gotten to work a little early on a Tuesday morning, and that was horrible and heartbreaking and difficult enough without the extra assignation," Kandell writes at BuzzFeed. In the ensuing years, his family continued to hold that view, declining to participate in "most of the ceremonies and pageantry." How strange for Kandell, then, that there is now an entire museum dedicated to his sister's death, gift shop and all. Kandell decided to visit it Sunday, this "$350 million, 110,000-square-foot refutation of everything we tried to practice"—and the final resting place of his sister, whose unidentified remains are now entombed in the basement.

As he wandered the exhibits, he writes, he could "feel the sweat that went into making this not seem tacky, of wanting to show respect, but also wanting to show every last bit of carnage and visceral whomp to justify the $24 price of admission." But in the end, he couldn't be as angry as he wanted to be. "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," he writes. "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 ... 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." His full column is worth a read. (More 9/11 attacks stories.)

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