Illinois Woman Asked to Remove ‘Obsolete’ 9/11 Memorial From Own Yard

September 4, 2019 Updated: September 4, 2019

An Illinois woman has been ordered to remove a memorial stone from her property that was erected to honor the men and women who lost their lives in the 9/11 terror attack.

Leigh Gardella-Wood said that she recently received a letter from Winthrop Harbor village—located in the north suburbs of Chicago—ordering the removal of the memorial from their own yard.

“All obsolete signage must be removed, including signage referring to Spring Bluff School and the 911 Memorial,” the letter reads, according to Gardella-Wood’s post on Facebook.

“You will have 14 days from the date of this letter to bring your property into compliance with the codes outlined above or you may be subject to the fines and penalties prescribed therein, including being subject to a fine of not less than $25 nor more than $500 for each violation and each day’s failure to comply with such provisions shall constitute a separate violation.”

According to the Daily Mail, Gardella-Wood and her husband bought their property in 2011, and live on it with their children. Prior to the property becoming their family home, it was the site of Spring Bluff Elementary School in Winthrop Harbor—since shut down.

The memorial—a boulder with a plaque—is a carryover from when the property was a school. A local girl scout raised enough money in June 2012 for a plaque to be attached to the boulder that reads “We Shall Never Forget” in dedication to those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Gardella-Wood was cited by the Daily Mail as saying that when officials tried to remove the memorial a few months later, local veterans mounted a campaign to preserve it and village authorities backed down.

But another showdown appears to be in the works with the receipt of the letter last week describing the memorial and school signage as “obsolete” and threatening fines for non-removal.

“I have never heard of a plaque being an issue. There are people who have plaques in their yard all over the place—it is not gaudy, it is not hurting anybody,” Gardella-Wood said, according to The Daily Wire.

“People worked really hard to have that put there,” she added. “People died on 9/11. It’s not something we can just forget. It is coming up—how do you forget that?”

A local veterans organization has offered to host the memorial on their property if Gardella-Wood is forced to dismantle it.

The mayor and village board have not yet officially commented on the memorial, but Alanna Whitmore, member of the Winthrop Harbor Board of Trustees, said the following in a post on Facebook:

“I would like to personally address the 9/11 memorial situation that has surfaced here in Winthrop Harbor. First and foremost, a memorial is not, and will not ever be ‘obsolete.’ As we approach the anniversary of Sept. 11, we as a community will NEVER forget. My husband served to protect this country because of that very day. I would personally like to apologize to anyone and everyone who was offended and outraged by this matter. We as a board did not discuss, vote on, or was contacted regarding this issue. I found out due to the Wood family contacting me personally. I ran on a platform of honesty and transparency and I will continue to serve the village in this manner.”

This is a developing story.

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