Village demands 9/11 memorial be removed, or pay hefty fines

Martin Mawyer – Opinion

You may have to do a double take when reading this eye-rubbing story. A woman in Illinois is being told she has to remove a memorial that honors the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks – or face hefty fines.

Leigh Gardella-Wood has 14 days to remove a plague that sits on her property located about 50 miles north of Chicago, or risk paying fines of up to $500 per day.

In a letter she received last week from the Winthrop Harbor Village, Gardella-Wood was told the 7-year-old plague falls into the category of “Obsolete signs.”

The memorial reads, “We Shall Never Forget,” and was originally placed on the property by a local girl scout who raised the money as a tribute to those who died during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Controversy surrounding the sign has been brewing for years.  Shortly after it was initially placed in 2012, local officials attempted to remove it, but were unsuccessful after an uproar from local veterans.

Leigh Gardella-Wood

“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 told NBC5.

“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.

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

Richard Coombe, of the VFW, said, “We made donations to it. I say it needs to stay there.” Many other neighbors agree, says NBC5.

The mayor and village board were unavailable for comment when the story broke, but the subject was expected to come up in a board meeting last night.

In a bit of personal irony, I had just asked my wife the previously evening whether our grandchildren were being taught in school about the deadly, callous and horrific Islamic terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001, resulting in 2,996 tragic deaths.

She didn’t know, but couldn’t fathom the idea the subject was not being taught.

It certainly isn’t a day we’ll ever forget, or ever want to forget!

But here we are 18 years later and learning that in a small village just outside of Chicago, if you want to remember that day with a sign visible to the public – even if it’s on your own property – it’s going to cost you up to $500 a day to do so.

It’s bad enough Islamic terrorists destroyed the lives of nearly 3,000 people on 9/11.  Now the Winthrop Harbor Village doesn’t want you to remember them either.


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