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Volunteers and workers remove graffiti from Dorchester Vietnam Veterans Memorial

 John Binion (right) and Jason Moynihan (left) removed graffiti from the Dorchester Vietnam Memorial.
John Binion (right) and Jason Moynihan (left) removed graffiti from the Dorchester Vietnam Memorial.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

If the vandal or vandals who defaced the Dorchester Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Thursday hoped to break the community’s spirit, they failed.

That was evidenced Friday morning when a hard-working group of city employees, UMass personnel, and volunteers removed the graffiti from the memorial and replaced flags and shrubbery that had been ripped from it, said Joseph Zinck, president of the Dorchester Vietnam Memorial Committee.

“The memorial is 100 percent back the way it’s supposed to be,” Zinck said Friday by phone.

He said the cleanup effort was helped by a recently installed anti-graffiti coating on the memorial that made it easier to wipe off the swastika and other symbols written with some type of marker.


“The memorial’s perfect,” Zinck said. “It’s unbelievable, the community response that we got. . . . It’s amazing, the Dorchester community and the community surrounding Dorchester. Businesses have called to offer plants and help, anything they can do.”

The gestures, he said, have been “heartwarming.” Meanwhile, state troopers and campus police at UMass Boston are investigating. No arrests have been reported.

“To me, the person that did it has major issues that need to be dealt with,” Zinck said, adding that if he could talk to whoever’s responsible, he’d mention “resources that maybe can help.”

And on the bright side, he said, the memorial is “all fixed, ready to go for Memorial Day.”

Among the supporters who came to the memorial site Friday was a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran and Dorchester resident who gave only his first name, Paul.

“I usually come Memorial Day, but I had to come here today to see if I could clean up something,” Paul said. “Every time I drive by, I always look and give a salute.”

Cameron Sullivan, 25, of Salem also felt compelled to lend a hand Friday.


“I saw what happened on the news and I wanted to show up, and I was hoping there’d be vets here, to show them the young generation cares,” Sullivan said. “My grandfather was in the Air Force, he shook JFK’s hand, he used to work at Otis Air Force Base when Air Force One landed back in the day.”

John Binion (left) and Jason Moynihan worked to remove graffiti, including a swastika, at the Dorchester Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Friday.
John Binion (left) and Jason Moynihan worked to remove graffiti, including a swastika, at the Dorchester Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Friday.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

The vandalism drew sharp criticism from public officials, including Francisco Urena, the state’s secretary of veterans’ services.

“I am extremely disappointed and angered after learning about today’s vandalism to the Vietnam Memorial in Dorchester for the second time in just a year,” Urena wrote in a Twitter message Thursday. “Many people have, and continue, to honor the 79 sons of Dorchester who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War.”

The vandalism occurred just one day after repairs to the monument were completed from a prior defacement in October.

In addition to the graffiti in Thursday’s incident, several dozen recent plantings of shrubs and flowers were torn out of the ground and American flags were removed and thrown into water near the memorial located on land owned by the University of Massachusetts Boston.

“My heart goes out to the families of those servicemen whose names are on that memorial,” Urena tweeted. “They and all families of the fallen deserve our support this coming Memorial Day, our national day of remembrance and recognition.”

He urged anyone with information about the vandalism to “please call the UMass Boston Police at 617-287-6084 or Massachusetts State Police at 617-740-7710.”


Mayor Martin J. Walsh called the vandalism “a cowardly act.”

“We’ll continue to work with all our partners to restore this memorial to the veterans who sacrificed all for our country,” Walsh said in a statement.

The memorial on Morrissey Boulevard stands on grassy land across a cove from UMass Boston. The names of fallen veterans are engraved in stone, as well as the tribute, “Through us, they will live forever!”

Near the monument Thursday evening, graffiti could be seen on three stones. A swastika was scrawled on one, along with the message “East India Tea Company.”

Holes could be seen in mulched ground, presumably marking places where plants were supposed to go before they were uprooted. Shrubs had been placed on grass yards away.

The vandalism was reported Thursday afternoon, shortly after Zinck visited the spot with his wife. Police told him, after reviewing security footage, that it was vandalized shortly after he left at 12:45 p.m., he said.

During the October incident, the memorial sustained damage from bricks that were thrown at it and an American flag that was cut up.

UMass Boston installed a security camera at the site earlier this month.

Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman said in a statement Thursday that school officials are reviewing video footage and “will help the investigation in any way we can.”

The university committed $15,000 toward the full restoration of the memorial after it was vandalized last fall. After that incident, UMass Boston employees worked to clean up the shrubs and debris and recently returned to do landscaping work and re-rope the poles and re-hang the flags at the site.


“UMass Boston is very proud of the veteran community on our campus and in the neighborhoods around us,” Newman said in her statement. “I am horrified at this callous act of vandalism, and saddened for those veterans who are listed on the monument and their families who are still here with us.”

Danny McDonald and Steve Annear of the Globe staff and Globe Correspondent Breanne Kovatch contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Sabrina Schnur can be reached at sabrina.schnur@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sabrina_schnur.