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December 14, 2021

Man Spends His Days off Cleaning Forgotten Veterans' Tombstones and Honoring Their Stories

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A Florida man has made it his life's mission to scrub the headstones of forgotten warriors and share their touching stories with the world. He went viral for his inspiring work, following which he was dubbed "The Good Cemeterian."

Have you ever thought about the countless sacrifices military officials make for their countrymen? Indeed, it isn't easy to repay them for their heroism, but the least we can do is honor them. 

However, one man has gone too far in celebrating the legacy of fallen soldiers. He's taken it upon himself to clean and restore the dilapidated graves and tombstones of forgotten veterans. 

[Left] The before and after shots of Lumish's work. [Right] Lumish cleaning and restoring a tombstone. | Photo: youtube.com/Great Big Story | instagram.com/thegoodcemeterian

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DRAWING INSPIRATION

Andrew Lumish's journey started in 2011 when he was capturing photographs at a historic cemetery in Downtown Tampa, Florida. He realized many veterans' graves were covered with dirt, mold, and mildew. Lumish told People: 

“Something struck me about the fact that the markers were in terrible condition, and it made me really angry that no one was able to care for them." 

After that, he trained himself on restoring the final resting places of veterans. Instead of watching football on Sundays, he dedicated his time to researching the restorative techniques and products used at National cemeteries in the U.S. 

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DEDICATION & COMMITMENT

Lumish has emerged as a creative cleaner over time. He spends hours scrubbing years of build-up, using different tools like Q-tips, toothbrushes, and soft bristle brushes to clean every nook and corner of the stonework.

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His one-person initiative expanded into a whole movement called "The Good Cemeterian Historical Preservation Project." 

On average, ultimately restoring a monument can take around four months. Astonishingly, Lumish has restored more than 600 graveyards and over 800 tombstones. The hardworking man feels upset whenever he sees a veteran's grave in a terrible state.

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APPRECIATION & PRAISE

Often, the tombstones bear unreadable names and have become weathered and cracked from years of bad weather and neglect. Thanks to Lumish's efforts, people have come to know the brave men who died serving their country. He told NBC:

"I feel connected to them. 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."

Many people have recognized Lumish's work, including the families of the fallen soldiers who appreciate him wholeheartedly. When World War II veteran Joe Lazzara's family discovered he had cleaned Lazzara's monument, they immediately reached out.

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A SPECIAL CONNECTION

 Lazzara's brother, Sam, was deeply moved by Lumish's efforts. He shared his thoughts in these words: 

"God brought him [Lumish] down to us."

Lumish feels connected to every veteran buried in the cemeteries and makes conscious efforts to uncover their stories and share them with the world. Over time, he's posted the "before" and "after" shots of his work on social media.

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THE GOOD CEMETERIAN

Lumish wants people to know about the veterans who died protecting their country and fellow men by showcasing their incredibly moving life stories. In September 2015, his remarkable work was featured by ABC News. 

Soon, his story went viral, and he was dubbed "The Good Cemeterian," appearing on different media platforms. His one-person initiative expanded into a whole movement called "The Good Cemeterian Historical Preservation Project." 

The Good Cemeterian Historical Preservation Project aims to "restore and honor the past through inspiration and education." Undoubtedly, Lumish is a kind-hearted soul who has dedicated his life to honoring the lives of forgotten veterans.

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