Joy and Mike Embleton, of Vernon, N.J., stop to take a picture at the statue at the Vietnam Memorial.
Beginning Tuesday, an enclosure will be built around the Three Servicemen so it can be restored. The six-week project will remove damage from the statue and restore its original patina, according to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
"You see the hands and you see the veins in the hands and people really feel a connection with this statue," Jennifer Talken-Spaulding, of the National Park Service, told News4's Tom Sherwood.
For those who want to include a restoration/preservation lesson on their Memorial Day Mall itinerary, the enclosure will have windows so the public can see the work being done.
"It'll be like a Plexiglas sort of window, so you'll be able to look and see the statue or see the people working on it," Jan Scruggs, of VVMF, told Sherwood. "It's pretty fascinating stuff."
Why not wait a week? Officials said they are finally ready to start work and they just don't want to waste any time.
Frederick Hart's 1984 statue had a patina of combinations and gradations of different colors, but it has turned a greenish-blue color in many places.
"We were able to see that the statue was showing significant wear after 25 years," memorial architect J.C. Cummings told Sherwood. "Too many people were touching the statue, or the chemicals in the air were affecting the statue, or just the sunshine."
"You can see over time that the statue is showing its age," said Scruggs. "The beautiful patina has been eaten away."
The original patina artist, Elliot Gantz, has recreated eight different colors of chemically applied patina to be reapplied after worn finish and damaged patina are removed.
The National Park Service partnered with VVMF for this project. They began raising funds for it in the fall.