BOSTON (CBS) — Professional cleaners in South Boston spent Tuesday morning scrubbing the WWII Memorial at Castle Island. The monument was vandalized by what appears to be some type of oil.

The vandalism was reported to Mass. State Police around 11:30 a.m. Monday.

It is unclear when the act occurred exactly, or what the substance is. One thing is clear: the community is angry.

The WWII Memorial in South Boston was vandalized (WBZ-TV)

“It’s terrible,” said Bubba Cahill of South Boston. “It’s like desecrating the dead.”

“If these people didn’t go to World War II, the person who did it wouldn’t be around,” he added.

“This community gave so much to our country in our time of trouble, time of war, and our veterans and their families. To see this happen here, it’s just really really really sad,” said former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn.

Meanwhile, cleaners were testing different products against the granite in hopes of washing the oily substance away.

“We’ve heard paint thinner, a couple other ideas but we don’t want to do anything that could do further harm to it,” explained Representative David Biele.

On Monday, DCR employees tried dish soap and power washing.

An array of cleaning products were being used to try and clean the WWII Memorial that was vandalized in South Boston (WBZ-TV)

“The outpouring of support is the silver living here,” Biele said, “I’ve had phone calls, texts, emails from people in South Boston and across Mass. looking to help out.”

The names of over 200 South Boston residents who fought and died during World War II are engraved on the memorial.

The man behind its creation, John Mullen, a South Boston resident and WWII veteran, passed away Monday night. Flags were lowered to honor him Tuesday.

“We’re going to make sure that we remember John today, but we’re also going to get this thing back to where it belongs, which is in beautiful condition,” said Michael Flaherty, Boston City Councilor at Large.

First-graders at Perry School get a hands-on history lesson at the WWII Memorial in South Boston after it was vandalized (WBZ-TV)

First-graders from the nearby Perry School also got a joint-history and civics lesson by visiting the monument Tuesday.

“We try to teach these kids to have big hearts. More important than a big brain often times in life,” said teacher Judy Nee. “These names were probably kids that went to our school decades ago. Our school has been there over 100 years.”

Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call Mass. State Police.

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