Architects and engineers will launch a study Wednesday of hairline cracks on the polished black granite walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
The project is expected to take up to two years.Inscribed on the wall are the names of 58,191 U.S. war dead. Dedicated on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 1982, the giant wedge is built into a hillside.
"Essentially what we're trying to do is keep the memorial from becoming another Grant's Tomb," said fund president Jan Scruggs. He referred to the New York City monument to Ulysses S. Grant, the Union army war hero who became the nation's 18th president. The tomb has suffered from physical deterioration and vandalism.
Starting Wednesday, experts will photograph the memorial from all angles and elevations to compare it with the original drawings in an effort to determine what is causing the cracks.
Subsequent phases of the study may involve removal of some of the memorial's 140 granite panels to measure temperature changes in the underlying structure.
The study is to be financed by commemorative medals to be struck by the U.S. Mint.