Sorrow, selfies compete at New York's 9/11 memorial 15 years on

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Selfies, sorrow compete at 9/11 Memorial
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Selfies, sorrow compete at 9/11 Memorial
A member of the New York Fire Department places his hand on the memorial before a ceremony marking the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan in New York September 11, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
A woman places white roses at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan in New York, September 10, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
A man takes a photo at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum near the Tribute in Light in Lower Manhattan, New York, September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
A woman takes a photo at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 1, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
People walk along the south reflecting pool at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 1, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A woman rests her hand on the north reflecting pool at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 1, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Children peer into the south reflecting pool at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 1, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A flower sits in the south reflecting pool at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 1, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Barbora Carnelli and Alessio Sanfilippo, both from Milan, Italy, peer into the south reflecting pool at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 1, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A member of the New York Police Department's Counterterrorism Unit looks over the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 1, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
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NEW YORK, Sept 9 (Reuters) - The memorial in New York City at the site where the Twin Towers fell in the Sept. 11 attacks 15 years ago straddles two worlds: one of the living and one of the dead.

A marker for where more than 2,600 people were killed, it attracts tourists from around the world. Some are drawn there to pause and reflect, others to satisfy a morbid fascination with the site of the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941.

Clutching cell phones, cameras and selfie sticks, visitors generally take their time around the National September ll Memorial Museum. They are expected to turn out in droves on Sunday for the 9/11 anniversary.

More than 23 million people have seen the memorial and 4 million have been to the museum since they were opened five years ago, leaving some local people thinking the significance of the site as a place for mourning is fading.

Rosanne Hughes' husband died on Sept. 11, 2001, while he was on a work visit at the Windows on the World restaurant high in the World Trade Center's North Tower.

Now a board member of the New Jersey 9/11 Memorial Foundation, she said it was hard for victims' relatives to sometimes see insensitive or even rude behavior at the plaza in Lower Manhattan.

"It's very disrespectful for people to go there and take selfies and smile for the cameras and in the background is where the towers collapsed," Hughes said.

"I saw people with their kids running around, you know laughing, having fun. I guess people just don't understand that it's just not that type of museum."

Early on that bright Tuesday morning in 2001, two hijacked planes were slammed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center. A third plane was flown into the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and a fourth crashed in a Pennsylvania field.

See inside the 9/11 Museum:

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Inside the NYC 9/11 museum and memorial, and notable visitors
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Inside the NYC 9/11 museum and memorial, and notable visitors
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 17: People tour the National September 11 Memorial & Museum on August 17, 2016 in New York City. Lower Manhattan, previously dominated by the financial industry, has become one of Manhattan's top tourist destinations with memorials to the victims, shopping malls and historical landmarks. Fifteen years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the area around Ground Zero has gone through significant changes but still carries reminders of that day when over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 17: A visitor to the 9/11 Memorial Museum looks up at the last foundation pillar that was standing from the World Trde Center site on September 01, 2016 in New York City. Lower Manhattan, previously dominated by the financial industry, has become one of Manhattan's top tourist destinations with memorials to the victims, shopping malls and historical landmarks. Fifteen years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the area around Ground Zero has gone through significant changes but still carries reminders of that day when over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 01: Messages are attached to the last foundation pillar that was standing from the World Trade Center site at the 9/11 Memorial Museum on September 01, 2016 in New York City. Lower Manhattan, previously dominated by the financial industry, has become one of Manhattan's top tourist destinations with memorials to the victims, shopping malls and historical landmarks. Fifteen years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the area around Ground Zero has gone through significant changes but still carries reminders of that day when over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Visitors walk past an exhibit at the National September 11 Museum in New York on February 10, 2015. The only Al-Qaeda plotter convicted over the 9/11 attacks has told American lawyers that members of the Saudi royal family donated millions of dollars to the terror group in the 1990s. French citizen Zacarias Moussaoui, dubbed the '20th hijacker,' made the revelations in court papers filed in a New York federal court by lawyers for victims of the attacks who accuse Saudi Arabia of supporting Al-Qaeda. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
French Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira (R) visits the National September 11 Museum in New York on February 10, 2015. The National September 11 Memorial and Museum is the principal memorial and museum, respectively, commemorating the September 11 attacks of 2001, which killed 2,977 people, and the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, which killed six. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Visitors look at an exhibit at the National September 11 Museum in New York on February 10, 2015. The only Al-Qaeda plotter convicted over the 9/11 attacks has told American lawyers that members of the Saudi royal family donated millions of dollars to the terror group in the 1990s. French citizen Zacarias Moussaoui, dubbed the '20th hijacker,' made the revelations in court papers filed in a New York federal court by lawyers for victims of the attacks who accuse Saudi Arabia of supporting Al-Qaeda. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
A visitor looks at an exhibit at the National September 11 Museum in New York on February 10, 2015. The only Al-Qaeda plotter convicted over the 9/11 attacks has told American lawyers that members of the Saudi royal family donated millions of dollars to the terror group in the 1990s. French citizen Zacarias Moussaoui, dubbed the '20th hijacker,' made the revelations in court papers filed in a New York federal court by lawyers for victims of the attacks who accuse Saudi Arabia of supporting Al-Qaeda. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 23: Portions of the garage survived both the 1993 bombing and the attacks on September 11, 2001. The soot stains seen on this fragment of the B-2 wall are the result of the fires that burned following 9/11. Recovered from the World Trade Center site after September 11, 2001. Photo taken on January 23, 2015 in new York City, New York. (Photo by Jin Lee/9/11 Memorial & Museum/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 09: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge view displays during a visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum on December 09, 2014 in New York City. The couple, who are traveling without their son Prince George, are on a three-day US east coast visit. This is the Duke and Duchess' first official visit to New York City. ( Photo by Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: People visit the National 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York, United States on May 25, 2014. The National 9/11 Memorial Museum was opened to the public for the first time on May 21, 2014 and telling the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: People visit the National 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York, United States on May 25, 2014. The National 9/11 Memorial Museum was opened to the public for the first time on May 21, 2014 and telling the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: People visit the National 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York, United States on May 25, 2014. The National 9/11 Memorial Museum was opened to the public for the first time on May 21, 2014 and telling the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: People visit the National 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York, United States on May 25, 2014. The National 9/11 Memorial Museum was opened to the public for the first time on May 21, 2014 and telling the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
The September 11 Memorial Museum's glass pavilion, center, overlooks the north reflecting pool, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Pope Francis stops to listen to former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg (L) describe a steel cross that once stood over Ground Zero during a visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York, September 25, 2015. Pope Francis visited the former World Trade Center site as part of his five-day trip to the United States. (Jin Lee/911 Memorial Musuem via AP, Pool)
This Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015 photo shows the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, center foreground, surrounded by One World Trade Center, left, the white v-shaped transportation hub, center, and 4 World Trade Center, the tall building at right, in New York. The building under construction at center right is 3 World Trade Center. Friday will mark the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
The salvaged tridents from the World Trade Center are seen in the National September 11 Memorial & Museum during a media preview in New York May 14, 2014. A museum commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington is on the verge of opening, with wrenchingly familiar sights as well as artifacts never before on public display. Among the first visitors to the National September 11 Memorial Museum are victims' family members and others intimately involved in its creation who will attend on Thursday, after a Wednesday media preview. The doors open to the general public on May 21. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER SOCIETY)
A man stands in the historical exhibition section of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum during a press preview in New York May 14, 2014. A museum commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington is on the verge of opening, with wrenchingly familiar sights as well as artifacts never before on public display. Among the first visitors to the National September 11 Memorial Museum are victims' family members and others intimately involved in its creation who will attend on Thursday, after a Wednesday media preview. The doors open to the general public on May 21. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER SOCIETY)
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the opening of the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York May 15, 2014. The museum, memorializing the September 11, 2001 attacks, opens this week to victims' family members and next week to the public, displaying artifacts from mangled columns recalling the enormity of that fateful day to shattered eyeglasses recalling its personal pain. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
A child lays on the memorial during a ceremony marking the 14th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center at The National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan in New York, September 11, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
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MELANCHOLIC MUSEUM

The memorial and museum, which cost more than $700 million to build, feature twin pools with waterfalls, each covering nearly an acre. The pools stand in the footprints of the towers.

Flanking the pools are platforms dotted with Swamp white oak trees and ivy beds. The names of every person who died in the 9/11 attacks are inscribed on bronze panels that rim the pools.

Coins glistened from the inner ledges of the pools, sharing space with paper napkins, bottle caps and even a plastic coffee cup one recent Sunday.

A security guard, who declined to give his name, said that during patrols he had to ask children to not sit on the names of the dead and stopped adults from stubbing out cigarettes on them.

The mood inside the museum, beneath "Ground Zero," is more solemn, its 110,000 square feet bearing witness to the attacks. People's identification cards, blood-stained shoes, photographs of fathers, wives, brothers and co-workers, intimate stories of loss and recovery tell the story.

Outside once again, Hughes said it was upsetting to see hotdog vendors and souvenir stands near the memorial.

"We still have anger over what happened too, and we've moved forward from that. But this is something that just doesn't go away," she said.

"It may be a photo-op for them but for us it is still very painful to watch."

Related: See other September 11 memorials around the country:

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9/11 memorials at the Pentagon, in Shanksville, Penn., and elsewhere
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9/11 memorials at the Pentagon, in Shanksville, Penn., and elsewhere
A woman sits amongst U.S. Army honor guard members at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial in Washington September 11, 2015. An overcast Friday greeted relatives who gathered to commemorate nearly 3,000 people killed in the September 11 attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and outside Washington 14 years ago, when airliners hijacked by al Qaeda militants brought death, mayhem and destruction. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
A United States flag is unfurled at sunrise at the Pentagon on the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, in Washington September 11, 2015. Relatives of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks are due to gather in New York, Pennsylvania and outside Washington on Friday to mark the 14th anniversary of the hijacked airliner strikes carried out by al Qaeda militants. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
A man walks through the 9/11 Empty Sky memorial at sunrise across from New York's Lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, September 11, 2013. Americans will commemorate the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks with solemn ceremonies and pledges to not forget the nearly 3,000 killed when hijacked jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: CITYSCAPE DISASTER ANNIVERSARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
An unidentified couple sit on a bench during a memorial service on the 11th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 to honor the 184 people who lost their lives when American Airlines flt. 77 crashed into the Pentagon, outside Washington, September 11, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER ANNIVERSARY POLITICS)
A sign shows the date of the September 11, 2001 attacks, at the Pentagon Memorial near Washington June 28, 2011. The tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks will be commemorated this year.REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER ANNIVERSARY)
SHANKSVILLE, PA - AUGUST 19: Trees planted throughout the grounds the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on August 19, 2016. American Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field outside Shanksville, PA with 33 passengers, seven crew members, and four hijackers aboard on September 11, 2001. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
SHANKSVILLE, PA- SEPTEMBER 11:Guests visit the Flight 93 National Memorial during the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attack in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and other dignitaries spoke at the occasion and layed a wreath at the memorial. Today marks the 14th anniversary of the attacks where nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
SHANKSVILLE, PA- SEPT 09: The new visitor center features dramatic concrete walls that follow the path of the doomed Flight 93. Over the edge (past where the people can be seen in the photo) is the wall of names area and the crash impact site. Thursday September 10, 2015 is the official opening for the new Visitor Center at the Flight 93 National Memorial. These photos were taken during a preview on September 9, 2015. The new visitor center has extensive displays that walks attendees through the events that occurred in Shanksville, Pa. on 9/11. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
SHANKSVILLE, PA- SEPT 09: When one tours the new visitor center there is a timeline of the terrible events of the day etched in the walkway leading to a view of the Flight 93 impact site. Thursday September 10, 2015 is the official opening for the new Visitor Center at the Flight 93 National Memorial. These photos were taken during a preview on September 9, 2015. The new visitor center has extensive displays that walks attendees through the events that occurred in Shanksville, Pa. on 9/11. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
JERSEY CITY, NJ - SEPTEMBER 10: A color guard stands inside the Empty Sky Memorial structure during the structure's dedication at Liberty State Park on September 10, 2011 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Empty Sky Memorial consists of two 30 foot tall concrete and steel structures, inscribed with the 746 names of victims who lived in New Jersey and were killed during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BAYONNE, NJ - SEPTEMBER 11: Catholic War Veterans of Bayonne Sam Capodice (L-R) Robert Bell, and Mike Capodice, check out the monument To The Struggle Against World Terrorism on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks after dedication ceremony September 11, 2006 in Bayonne, New Jersey. To The Struggle Against World Terrorism memorial is a gift from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the People of Russia and sculptur Zurab Tsereteli to the people of the United States. (Photo by Sylwia Kapuscinski/Getty Images)
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Kenneth T. Jackson, a New York City historian and professor at Columbia University, said the attacks made the World Trade Center the most famous place in the world, and he believes visitors instantly realize its significance.

"It now joins the long list of New York City tourist attractions and, for better or worse, it is one," he said. "Even if there was no memorial, even if they left some broken stuff there, people would visit."

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