If Americans don't mind gift shops at Pearl Harbor's USS Arizona Memorial and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., we should be able to tolerate a gift shop at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which opened Wednesday in New York.
It all depends on what is on the shelves and how it is marketed.
Unfortunately, some of the items being sold at the 9/11 gift shop appear kitschy and crass.
A "darkness hoodie" featuring the outline of the Twin Towers? A plush search-and-rescue dog for the kids? And, according to the BBC, "a silk scarf with the New York skyline and buttons featuring pictures of the 'dogs of 9/11'?"
The New York Post lists "bracelets, bowls, buttons, mugs, mousepads, magnets, key chains, flags, pins, stuffed animals, toy firetrucks, cellphone cases, tote bags, books and DVDs" among the trove of memorabilia.
We realize that once you accept the idea of a gift shop at a site commemorating a national tragedy, it's impossible to draw a precise line where the unobjectionable ends and the out-of-line begins. Some people believe that any commercial outlet at the 9/11 museum is akin to a sacrilege.
But is 9/11 really unique among all such locations — Oklahoma City is another site with a gift shop — where violence has taken innocent lives?
Surely books and pamphlets recalling the event, providing historical perspective and memorializing the victims and rescuers not only are appropriate but are also nearly essential at the 9/11 shop. So too are tasteful objects such as wall plaques for those who want to obtain an enduring reminder of the tragedy while on a pilgrimage there.
Beyond that, however, the debate begins.
What about T-shirts that honor the tragedy and pledge to remember it, and pay tribute to the New York Fire Department? What about those mugs, water bottles, phone covers and key chains?
Much as we appreciate that nearly everyone will buy those items without meaning any disrespect, somehow they seem, in too many cases, just plain tacky only a dozen years after the event.