Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The U.S. Park Police are investigating suspected vandalism at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall.

Volunteers and National Park Service rangers on Saturday discovered a “light, oily” substance on the memorial’s wall panels and the paving stones in front of it, Bill Line, a Park Service spokesman, said yesterday.

The substance, which has not been identified, was spread over an area of about 50 to 60 feet, mostly on the paving stones, Mr. Line said.

Maintenance and preservation staff were working to remove the substance with no permanent damage to the memorial.

Mr. Line could not predict when the cleaning would be completed.

The substance “could have been from a variety of different products,” and it is not clear whether it was spread intentionally, said Sgt. Robert LaChance, Park Police spokesman.

“We are investigating to see if there was any criminal act or if it was an accident,” Sgt. LaChance said. “We don’t have any indication that it was intentional, but we are investigating to see if it’s a possibility.”

More than 4 million people visit the memorial each year. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the wall, which is inscribed with the names of 58,249 veterans.

Architect Maya Ying Lin was a 21-year-old senior at Yale University when she won the design contest.

The memorial is on the west end of the Mall, between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

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