An old cemetery’s long neglected tombstones have been given new life with one kind man’s labor of love. Andrew Lumish calls himself “The Good Cemetarian” and it’s an appropriate title for the gift her provides. Andrew spends every Sunday painstakingly caring for the forgotten tombstones of military veterans in Florida. He shares his stories and photos of his work on Facebook and people have been completely floored by his careful restoration.
He reportedly can spend up to four months cleaning some of the tombstones that are in particularly poor shape. Andrew, who enjoys photography and is a history buff, explained to the Tampa Bay Times that he started this mission when he was taking photos of graves in Oaklawn Cemetery. He discovered that many of the veterans tombstones were almost destroyed.
He works six days a week as a carpet and upholstery cleaner, but instead of spending his day off relaxing around the house, he heads out to scrub the tombstones because he feels an obligation to honor these veterans. Andrew explained to CBS News that he doesn’t want these vets to be forgotten and began cleaning the tombstones in 2013.
He explained to the Tampa Bay Times that after beginning the work, he had restored 300 tombstones by 2015. The first one he restored belonged to a Civil War veteran named Henry J. Fletcher.
His cleaning process involves a unique method, which he has shared on his Facebook page. He uses a product called D/2 Biological Solution that’s used for cleaning granite, marble, and sandstone monuments.
Andrew’s work has gained much attention and veterans and their families are particularly grateful for his selfless act. He told CBS News that he feels that he is unworthy of the same respect as military veterans, however, but he is inspired by the veterans’ history and that keeps him coming back to restore more tombstones.
Many people have commented on Andrew’s amazing work on social media, with one person noting: “Andrew has a gift and extraordinary skill which helps us to remember and value life through the restoration of stone and marble; an earthly gift, forgotten becomes heavenly, right before our eyes. What a calling and contribution, may we each be reminded to do good in our communities. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and all the stories you reveal, one uncovering at a time.”
The Good Cemeterian Facebook page also shared that this positive work project has inspired others to do tombstone cleaning in their area, noting: “What touches me the most is that others inspired by our work have started projects in their community — aged young to ‘young-at-heart.’”
Another person commented: “I do the same thing for veterans’ headstones in the cemetery behind my house. I believe that if the government pays for a veteran’s grave marker, they should be readable. And to veterans: If you ask your family to request a bronze marker from the VA rather than a granite or marble one, it won’t need such cleaning, and the lettering won’t weather away.”