NASHVILLE, TN – (WZTV/CNN) – Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage attracts visitors from all walks and parts of the world to see the seventh U.S. president’s home, way of life and tomb.
"It’s the same thing as visiting as visiting George Washington’s tomb at Mt. Vernon or Thomas Jefferson’s tomb at Monticello," said Howard Kittell, president and CEO of the Andre Jackson Foundation.
But Saturday, Kittell said disrespect is why the foundation is respectfully covering up Jackson’s tomb. He was laid to rest in 1845. His beloved wife, Rachel, who died in 1828, is also buried there.
Kittell said on Friday morning, just before a scheduled board members’ portrait at the site, the grounds crew arrived to find someone had vandalized President Andrew and Rachel Jackson’s graves in Rachel’s garden.
"Used black and red spray paint to spray the covers of Andrew and Rachel Jackson’s graves. Symbols of anarchy and obscenities sprayed on the tomb itself, so at this point we have it covered out of reverence for the Jacksons and so our guests aren’t exposed to it as well," Kittell said.
Kittell said stone conservators are determining the best way to clean the tomb without causing further damage.
Meanwhile, metro police are investigating.
“This is the first time anything of this nature has happened to the tomb ever. We do know that some of the symbols that were spray painted on the grave covers and obelisk are similar to ones that have been spray painted on other graves and monuments in Nashville in the past few weeks,” Kittell explained.
Kittell said the foundation is working to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“The Andrew Jackson Foundation feels very strongly that we have to take this responsibility seriously, so we’re looking at steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.
Kittell says the 24/7 property security will increase with additional cameras and staff while they’re looking at current surveillance video from nearby areas on the property for potential leads.
"To desecrate a president’s grave is a sad statement on our society," he said.
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