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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There is a debate brewing over whether it's appropriate for the 9/11 museum gift shop to sell souvenirs at the exact spot where thousands of people died.
As CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported on Monday, visitors walked out of the ground zero museum with shopping bags holding souvenir purchases from the gift shop. They could be anything from a stuffed dog to police and firefighter charms by Pandora to a scarf with an imprint of the World Trade Center before the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.
"It's a disgrace. The selling of trinkets is a disgrace," said Ted Stankewicz, a retired firefighter from Ladder 119. "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."
"It is a little disrespectful to be selling scarves and jewelry. It's not what this is about, you know? It should be run like the national monuments around the country, by the federal government. But until that happens, unfortunately, we're going to be faced with this," added another firefighter, who chose to remain anonymous.
Retired firefighter Ron Parker wasn't nearly as critical.
"It's not a gift shop on a grave site. It's terrible to depict it that way. It's a bookstore with a great many heroes. There's a great many stories about a great many heroes in that bookstore," Parker said.
Some 9/11 family members said they are upset about the gift shop because the museum is alsowhere unidentified remains of attack victims are housed.
One man, who worked on the museum, bought a cup Monday. Here's why:
"For me, it's like a reminder to remember the museum and everyone that was involved in it from the victims, to the families the people," John Patterson said.
Museum officials argued that there are many memorials with gift shops. They pointed to Pearl Harbor, Oklahoma City and the Holocaust museum.
Museum officials said nearly 41,000 members of the 9/11 community have visited during the dedication period – and about 10 percent have purchased keepsakes, Kramer reported.
Books and commemorative rubber bracelets are the biggest sellers.
The museum opens to the public on Wednesday.