The president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund said Tuesday that scratches found in the memorial, one resembling a swastika, appear to be random vandalism and not the work of someone trying to make a political statement.

"It looks like the random defacement that happens to memorials in Washington from time to time," said Jan Scruggs. "The memorial has had about 24 million visitors and only one bad egg."The vandalism is the first since the memorial opened in 1982, National Park Service officials said. The 493-foot granite wall inscribed with 58,156 names of those killed in the Southeast Asian conflict has become the most visited monument in the capital.

"The wall itself has such great respect that we have never had problems with damage," said Bill Ruback, superintendent of national parks in downtown Washington. "It had to be someone crazy to do this."