Telling It Like It Is
When you go the cemetery to visit your loved one(s), do you have to pay an entry fee? How about paying per hour to sit with someone at their grave and tell them how much you miss them? What if you had to pay a “vision fee” every time you stopped and paid your respects at a public monument or memorial dedicated to our veterans?
For that matter, why do we have to pay admission fees to museums – where we're paying to get information that we'd otherwise find comfortably seated at home on the internet?
Yes, the idea is that you're seeing something that's of great historic value – and how else would these establishments stay open and pay their employees? Still, I wouldn't want to pay ANYTHING to enter a historic place where paying an admission fee doesn't change or alter my experience and it certainly doesn't change what happened decades or centuries ago. Many museums have a 'suggested donation,' which seems like a more tangible expectation of history buffs.
While every organization needs to raise funds to remain in existence and serve the public, I couldn't believe it when I read – yet again – that there will potentially be a price tag on history and the value of tragedy will be questioned.
In May it was announced that there will be a $20 to $25 admission fee to the 9/11 museum. Rightfully, petitions were recently signed by thousands who are infuriated that a visit to a national memorial would turn into a profit-making business.
Since I've been to the 9/11 memorial grounds and was honored to pay my respect at the reflecting pools, I was personally upset that anyone would consider charging a fee to observe artifacts from a tragedy.
Although I don't have family or close friends who were affected by the horrific events of September 11th, I worked in the city during 2001 and luckily had the day off, so I didn't have to escape the city following the attacks. However, when I went to work that Friday, the tragedy stretched far beyond Ground Zero. The entire city was a museum – photos of missing friends and loved ones and artifacts from that day scattered all over the streets. Women’s shoes were found all over random streets as a result of them having to run for their lives. All of Lower Manhattan was covered in soot, building debris and the smell of burning stayed in your nose for months. The days following the attack, Ground Zero was considered sacred – and construction crews worked around the clock to find human remains and tried to secure the structural integrity of the site. The entire city was on high alert for many weeks and months and a feeling of vulnerability developed even though patriotism was strong. Sorry, but this experience and tragedy cannot be observed or ‘relived’ by someone from out of state who is spending their vacation in New York sightseeing.
Many museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art, the National History Museum and the Museum of Jewish Heritage, preserve artifacts from different eras. Whether those artifacts are from ‘tragic’ events or depict a negative scene out of history, those museums are located in a neutral zone.
Let's get real!!! When you're paying an admission fee to enter a museum, the museum is usually NOT located in the morbid, gut wrenching and sacred place where a tragedy happened. To put it mildly, isn't it tacky to charge people to walk around on what many still consider burial grounds for their loved ones?
When I walked around the reflecting pools, I read many of the names inscribed on the marble ledge. Seeing “unborn child” next to womens’ names was one of the most heartbreaking things I witnessed. While others were smiling and taking photos, I was solemn and could still feel the chill of the terror attacks and remember what it was like being in the city days after the nightmare. So, they’re going to charge us a fee to experience what millions across the country – and the world – wished NEVER happened? Had we not been attacked, there would be no tragedy and no museum. I've been to the souvenir shop next to Ground Zero and I think it's a better idea to make a profit from photographs, books, t-shirts and other memorabilia dedicated to those tireless heroes who wrung themselves out to save lives that day.
Many people survived horrible events, such as the Boston Bombing and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. You're going to tell me that those sites, stained by murder, death and broken hearts, will also be a tourist attraction? They – whoever 'they' are – want to put a price on someone's loss? Shame on them! Tell them you want to pay your respects by honoring their memory - not by opening your wallet!