Town to homeowner: Remove 9/11 memorial from property or face a daily fine


WINTHROP HARBOR, Ill. – A woman in Illinois is being told that she has to remove an ‘obsolete’ 9/11 memorial from her property or face a penalty of up to $500 per day, NBC 4 New York reported.

Leigh Gardella-Wood and her family live on the property in Winthrop Harbor where the former elementary school was built. After that building was closed down in 2011, she and her family bought the property and moved in. 

Now the town has issued a directive to Gardella-Wood: she needs to remove ‘all obsolete signage’ associated with the former school from her property or risk paying a fine. Included in their demands: the 9/11 memorial that stands on the property.

An Illinois woman is being told that she needs to remove a 9/11 memorial from her property… or face serious fines. (NBC 4 New York)


The official letter stated that if Leigh and her family don’t remove the signage, including the memorial, within 14 days of the receipt of the letter, they could face some serious fines. 

Leigh says that when she originally moved onto the property, the large boulder with the plaque was still there. Town officials had apparently said that they wanted to move it from the property within one year, but she said that even after contacting them, they made no attempt to remove it.

Town to homeowner: Remove 9/11 memorial from property or face a daily fine
The town issued a directive to have the memorial removed within 14 days. (NBC 4 New York)


She’s baffled that they’re making such a big deal over it.

“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 gawdy, it is not hurting anybody,” Gardella-Wood said. 

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Town to homeowner: Remove 9/11 memorial from property or face a daily fine


The memorial originated in 2012 when a Girl Scout raised funds for a plaque to read ‘We Shall Never Forget’ and be mounted on the boulder. According to NBC 4, when officials attempted to remove the memorial years prior, they received a ton of backlash from military veterans in the area.

“We made donations to it, I say it needs to stay there,” Richard Coombe, of the VFW, said. 


“It is a memorial to people – why move something that is a memorial to people?” said another.

Because of that, they gave up.

Now, years later, they’re trying to get rid of it again. 

“People died on 9/11. It’s not something we can just forget. It is coming up – how do you forget that?” she continued.

The homeowner said she’s not sure why town officials are trying so hard to get rid of the memorial.

“I don’t know what to think because I don’t understand what they are thinking. I don’t understand how a community that is so close, that they would find a plaque or memorial obsolete,” Gardella-Wood continued. “People worked really hard to have that put there.”


A local VFW has volunteered to take the memorial and have it displayed on their property if she’s forced to have it removed from her yard. A town hall meeting was scheduled for Tuesday night so that residents and officials could determine the future of the memorial.

Sadly, this is not the only 9/11 memorial news to make national headlines just days before the 18th anniversary of that tragic day.

Police in Geneva, New York are investigating after a 9/11 memorial dedicated to emergency responders was found vandalized last week.

Assistant city manager Adam Blowers said police received a complaint that spray-painted “scribbles” were left on the memorial, though there didn’t seem to be anything specific written.


The memorial was installed in September 2016.  It’s located on Long Pier on Seneca Lake.

Phillip Herrick is a Geneva resident, who told local media outlets that he doesn’t think the damage is significant.

“I think it’s kids being kids, doing stupid stuff,” he said. “I come down here all the time and find garbage left from damage done by kids.”

But the city isn’t taking it so lightly.

“To see something like that is really tough, because you know those people,” Blowers told local media.  “The firefighters, the police officers, EMTs — all those first responders. And to have the work that they do be treated that way is sort of unfortunate.”

As we near the anniversary of the attacks, our hearts go out to everyone who lost their lives that day and in the days, months and years following. We will never forget.


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