They Are DEMANDING She Remove a 9/11 Memorial From Her Property, And She Just Told Them…


A couple is trying to keep a memorial to the September 11 attacks in their yard after their village in the north suburbs of Chicago sent them a letter saying it must be removed or face hefty fines.

Leigh Gardella-Wood and her husband bought the Spring Bluff Elementary School in Winthrop Harbor, which had been closed, in 2011; they live there with their children. The school’s property included a memorial boulder.

NBC Chicago reported, “In June 2012, Girl Scout Kasha Strathman took the 9/11 memorial on as her Gold Award project, raising money for the plaque that now sits on the boulder, reading ‘We Shall Never Forget’ above a dedication to ‘those who serve.’”

Photo Credit: AZ Emily Taylor

Now the town has issued a directive to Leigh: 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.

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 of $500 a day.

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.

Photo Credit: AZ Emily Taylor

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.

Leigh 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.

“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,” Leigh said

Photo Credit: AZ Emily Taylor

Leigh said that she had never heard of a plaque being an issue at all, adding that many people had plaques in their backyards. She also said that the memorial was not loud and did not attack anybody.

Leigh states that she is confused about why officials are claiming that a close community thinks a memorial is obsolete.

Alanna Whitmore, a 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.”

Sources: OpposingViews, Daily Mail, NBC Chicago

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