An Illinois woman has been ordered to remove a 9/11 memorial stone from her property, according to reports.
Leigh Gardella-Wood has lived on the property in Winthrop Harbor with her family since 2011. The land was once the site of Spring Bluff Elementary School before it closed down the year she bought it.
Reports said Gardella-Wood got a letter from Winthrop Harbor Village saying she must remove “all obsolete signage” related to the school from the property, including the memorial stone. She said she asked officials to remove it the year she bought the property, but they failed to do so.
In June of 2012, a girl scout raised funds to have a plaque placed on the boulder. The plaque reads “We Shall Never Forget,” and is dedicated to those who lost their lives on that tragic day.
Gardella-Wood said of the letter:
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. 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?
The letter reportedly said Gardella-Wood has 10 days to remove the plaque or she could face daily fines of up to $500. However, Gardella-Wood said if she is forced to remove it from her property, a local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) group said they will place it on theirs.
“We made donations to it, I say it needs to stay there,” said Richard Coombe.
Another neighbor of Gardell-Woods’, Michael Hoeth, questioned why it needed to be removed in the first place.
“It is a memorial to people – why move something that is a memorial to people?” he said.
Reports said officials will discuss the issue at a board meeting on Tuesday evening.
A similar instance occurred in July of 2017 when officials in King County, Washington, took down a flag-festooned road-side memorial because one resident said it was “offensive.” However, other residents replaced the display soon afterward.
“A county spokesman said the memorial was finally taken down because it may have been a ‘distraction’ for motorists, though why it was allowed to stay up for so long before being taken down was not answered,” according to Breitbart News.
In July, Breitbart News reported that a display of the Ten Commandments was removed from the grounds of an Ohio middle school following complaints by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).
“The district’s promotion of the Judeo-Christian bible and religion over nonreligion impermissibly turns any non-Christian or non-believing student into an outsider,” said FFRF representative Christopher Line. “Schoolchildren already feel significant pressure to conform to their peers. They must not be subjected to similar pressure from their schools, especially on religious questions,” Line concluded.