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Investigation Underway Into Memorial Vandalism

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

National Park News

Park Police investigators have determined that a thin, oily substance spread on some sections of the memorial and its adjacent paving stones last Friday was an act of vandalism.

Preservation and maintenance staff from the National Mall and Memorial Parks continue their work to identify and remove the substance. Because it has not been fully identified, they are using the most gentle of techniques to ensure that the substance is removed but that some of it is not also pushed into the granite stonework or grouting.

While progress has been made in removing some of the material, blotches remain along a stone curb, or paving stone, at the base of the wall for approximately 50 to 60 feet, with some of the names panels also splashed with the substance. Visitors are still able to read the names of veterans whose inscriptions have been affected. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has remained open during the entire restorative process. 

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. 

“It is deplorable that someone would vandalize what’s really a national shrine,” said Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.  “No organized group would ever be a part of anything like this, but there are deranged individuals in our society, and I think one has visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.”     

The black granite wall was dedicated in November of 1982 and bears the names of more than 58,000 men and women killed or missing in action in the Vietnam War.  It is one of the most visited tourist sites in Washington, with an estimated 80 million visitors to the site since its opening.    


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