A Florida man has made it his duty to honor fallen veterans by restoring their gravestones to their original glory.
Andrew Lumish, 46, spends his spare time cleaning soldiers’ gravestones, some as old as the Civil War, in various Tampa cemeteries, NBC News reported.
Lumish, also known as “the Good Cemeterian,” discovered the headstones while taking photos at a cemetery and found that the headstones were deteriorating.
Lumish, who owns a cleaning company, wanted to use his talents to do something about the headstones.
He has cleaned about 600 veterans’ headstones, telling NPR that he cleans them to respect the fallen soldiers and gain some insight into their lives.
“It’s pretty messy, pretty dirty,” he says while cleaning off the gravestone of a World War I veteran. “We’re pulling out dirt and biological material that’s been here since 1921. So, a lot of elbow grease here.”
Every Sunday, Lumish takes 25 gallons of water, a couple soft-bristle brushes, and a cleaning solution that’s safe for the environment that national cemeteries use after soaking the stones with water.
“The process will take one, two, three, four months total before restoration is complete,” Lumish said.
Although he is not a veteran himself and does not have any personal connections to these fallen veterans, Lumish said his endeavor to return the graves to their former glory has helped him “feel connected” to those who fought in the wars.
“I feel connected to them,” Lumish said. “And it’s very important for me to be able to tell their story and I love to be able to show these individuals and show their accomplishments.”
He has also learned a lot about the lives of the veterans buried in these cemeteries.
Lumish’s “Good Cemeterian” Facebook page tells the stories of the deceased men and women who served through photos and accounts from genealogy websites, articles, draft notices, and death notices that he obtains from the local libraries.
Many people have honored him for his work, from families of the dead to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and his Facebook page has gotten many hits.
The goal, Lumish says, is to shine a light on how these people have lived so people can “appreciate” those who serve in the military.
“They were not considered heroes of their day, so I hope that some of the stories that I tell make people appreciate the men and women that serve currently,” he says.