WASHINGTON (WJZ) — The Lincoln Memorial is a national treasure. But the park service says vandals tried to turn the iconic statue into trash.

Kai Jackson reports.

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Bright green paint was splattered on the memorial to Abraham Lincoln. His left leg, the tail of his coat and his chair were all defaced.

It also landed on the floor in front of the 19 foot statue that honors the nation’s 16th president.

“People come from all over the world to see them. And you know, it’s just really disturbing that someone would do this,” said Carol Johnson, National Park Service.

U.S. park police discovered the paint around 1:20 a.m. Friday morning. They didn’t see any words, letters or symbols in the vandalism.

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The monument was closed while park service workers cleaned it. Tourists who came to visit the national landmark were disappointed.

“We didn’t know what was going on. We know it’s open all the time, so obviously something happened. Once we found out, we were just completely disgusted,” a visitor said.

The Lincoln Memorial has been the site of a number of protests and gatherings. The best known perhaps–the 1963 March on Washington when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the marble statue.

The National Park Service says more than six million people visited the memorial last year.

“We would hate to have it close. This is, you know, night time is one of the best times to see the monument,” said Carol Johnson, National Park Service.

Crews are tackling the paint with a non-toxic citrus based cleaner, and the damage isn’t permanent.

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No one has claimed responsibility, but authorities hope surveillance video will help find the culprit.