Step Right Up to Sept. 11 Museum — and See My Husband’s Remains

One Widow Says New Memorial Trivializes Loss

getty images

By Meg Bloom Glasser

Published May 22, 2014, issue of May 30, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

I spend a lot of time in my Subaru Outback. On a good day, the roof is not leaking but the radio is permanently broken. Not an easy fix, and the Great God of Radio has gone ahead and chosen a station and volume for me. I can’t turn the sound up, down or off, and the dial is stuck somewhere between high-pitched static and Christian rock. I’m either being smoked out or converted. Here’s the worst part: I have no choice

And this is how I feel about the 9/11 Memorial Museum. I have no choice. I have lost all control of what becomes of my husband and his memory. I have been reduced to a spectator in the cheap seats. He has now become museum property, and people who have $24 to spare can see what became of him. I am lucky, I guess, because I have the equivalent of a VIP pass, a little white card etched with black writing, from the NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner that allows me to schedule a visit to the Reflection Room at the WTC Repository, where his remains are entombed. I ask myself: “What the heck is a Repository, and who put him in there? Who decided this, and why didn’t I have input? Why are the remains even included in the museum?”

Now, I’m not a clairvoyant, nor do I recall speaking with the dead, or even wanting to, but I am quite certain my husband, if he could communicate with me, would not have wanted to be part of this spectacle. When he was alive, he was hesitant about setting foot in the torture chamber museum at Medieval Times, but now he is trapped and entombed permanently beneath the place where he was murdered, simply because the powers that be decided to put him there. I can see the moneymaking potential, but at some point someone must exercise good judgment. When will they stop capitalizing on our losses?

I was relieved when my dogs beckoned me to go outside in the yard while I was watching the opening ceremony on TV, because I couldn’t bear to hear Chris Christie and other politicians pontificate on resilience and patriotism. I’m not against a memorial museum, but I am bewildered by all the pagentry. I appreciate that there is a public need to know what happened. I also understand the historical significance. But no one needs to have a reenactment. There is a kinder, gentler and more sensitive way of helping people understand. It may have been a public loss but each and every person who died had someone who loved them. Rather than honoring the lives lost, the museum just seems to exploit those deaths to tell a bigger story.

9/11 was tragic. It affected people from all over the world, not just survivors. As a nation, we can’t fix it by creating heroes, enemies and a museum so extravagant only the well-off can afford it. 9/11 trinkets further trivialize these losses. While it is life-affirming to know that strangers have so much empathy for survivors, the politicians and the powers that be have used 9/11 and the museum to promote themselves. We don’t need marching bands or T-shirts. We don’t need gory details about what happened on 9/11. What we need is to tell our own stories, to share our photos and memories.

We want a safe place to share. When we tell our stories, we can start to heal. Above all, we want a fair process for being heard. We don’t want 9/11 hijacked by politicians or turned into a Broadway production. Even if it is to be a museum filled with relics — as it was conceived — shouldn’t it be free so that anyone could go and visit them?

Healing is a process, and people do it differently. But please, without the fanfare, circus and pageantry. Sometimes it’s better to focus on the emotion and not so much on the event. We’re all sad. My 14-year-old, who had to grow up too quickly because he lost his father on 9/11, heard about the museum from his middle school teacher. When he came home from school, he said to me, “Osama bin Laden would have been really proud of this museum.” And it’s true. When you look at the sensational way that it freezes in place the destruction of that day and the lives that were ripped away, it’s almost as if the museum is from bin Laden’s point of view.

Meg Bloom Glasser, whose husband, Thomas, was killed in 9/11, is a playwright and currently volunteers as a grief facilitator at Good Grief in Morristown, New Jersey.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel:
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.