Flowers and American flags are arranged on the north pool of the National September 11 Memorial during a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks at the World Trade Center, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011.
Relatives of 9/11 victims say tourists have been treating the National September 11th Memorial like a playground, sitting on plaques engraved with the names of the victims, splashing water from the waterfalls on their faces to cool themselves, and resting bags and cups of coffee on the ledges.
The New York Post reports family members and first responders alike have been writing letters to memorial officials and related organizations, upset over disrespectful behavior on the grounds.
One tourist "spilt coffee all over my son's name... after she arose from sitting on the names," a relative wrote to Bill Doyle of the Coalition of 9/11 families.
First responder Mariannae Pizzitola wrote to Memorial President Joe Daniels about her recent visit to the memorial, saying, "People laughed and took pictures smiling, and so many people leaned on the tablets with all of my friends' names engraved in them, holding Starbucks cups, like it was a kitchen table," she said.
One family member told the Post she was glad the atmosphere wasn't morose.
“I have always assumed that as time goes by, people will come there for gentle recreation -- walking, sitting in the dappled sunshine, even picnicking -- so I am rather surprised that anyone thinks this is not acceptable behavior,” said Kathy Bowden, who lost her brother in the attacks.
The Post said two guards were circling the two pools at the memorial last week, prohibiting visitors from leaning on the ledges or resting their bags against the engraved names. The new crackdown was issued ahead of the upcoming 9/11 anniversary.
In June, a group of students from Brooklyn were forced to leave the memorial after throwing garbage into the reflecting pools.