Vandals at the Wall

Last Friday a “light, oily substance” was sprayed on 50 to 60 feet of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall panels and paving stones in an act of apparent vandalism. All this week, Washington was consumed with the Iraq reports by Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker. This weekend, ANSWER and a number of other anti-war groups are planning big demonstrations in Washington. Some veterans groups are planning to parallel the demostrations with lines of volunteers blocking access to the Vietnam Wall and other memorials they believe may be targeted for defacment. The assumption that Friday’s discovery was an act of vandalism connected with the demonstrations seems a logical conclusion.

Bill Line, Communications officer for the National Park Service doesn’t think that assumption would be normal.

“No it would not be normal… it would be wrong,” Line said defensively.

“It would be — wrong — to call this incident vandalism because we have not concluded the investigation, it is still ongoing. It would be premature and wrong to use the words vandal, or vandalism… It could have been an accident.”

Anyone who has seen photos or video of the trail of gunk on the black glossy walls would definitely not see it as an accident — but it is true that the circumstances of the spraying are still unknown.

If a particularly twisted individual or group of individuals decided they wanted to deface a national monument that represents some 58,000 fallen warriors, why would they chose a wimpy “light, oily” substance? Wouldn’t you choice a flaming red can of paint? But how this could possibly be an accident?

Col. Harry G. Riley (US Army, Ret.) who is heading up the “Eagles” group — one of the veterans groups coming to Washington to protect the monuments this weekend said “When you see there is some type of a substance on the wall down and on the base for 50 to 60 feet, its pretty hard for me to rationalize how that could be anything other than purposeful…”

“Who ever did this, if they were trying to enrage the Vietnam Veterans, they did,” said Riley. “We have been stomped on and ridiculed and spit on simply because we went when our nation called. It wasn’t that we are pro war — when the nation called we went.”

Vandalism of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial has not occurred since 1989 said Jan Scruggs, who conceived the idea of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall and raised the money to have it built 25 years ago.

“Someone put some lighter fluid on one of the directories on Constitution Avenue, lit a fire, and burned a few pages off,” said Scruggs.

Scruggs who is also founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund said that there is a belief that the recent vandalism was motivated by " type of people" but he hopes that no one is accusing them at this point.

“I just can’t image that this was an organized activity or a conspiracy involving more than one deranged person, or that anyone would have done this to score political points for their cause — it would have just the opposite effect.”

Scruggs told HUMAN EVENTS that if anyone has knowledge of who committed this act that the Foundation is offering $1000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

The substance has been reported to be coming off the wall, although recent weather conditions in D.C. have been slowing down restoration progress. The “light, oily” substance is yet to be identified. Whoever did this, and regardless of their reason, they have raised tensions around this weekend’s demonstrations to an unnecessarily high level.

Why would the National Park Service be so tense, and reject so forcefully the idea that the oil spraying was an act of vandalism? HUMAN EVENTS plans to follow this story closely.