Andrew Lumish has never served in the military, but that doesn’t stop the 46-year-old from honoring veterans he’s never met in his spare time. Dubbed “The Good Cemetarian,” Lumish cleans the gravestones of vets for the most heartwarming reason.
In a 2015 interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Lumish says that the neglected state of the gravestones bothered him. “Their final resting places were total disasters,” he said. “They’d been neglected from the time they’d been buried.”
Lumish owns his own carpet and upholstery business, but when he first started, he had never cleaned a headstone before. Now, more than a few years since he first started, you can sometimes catch Lumish on Sundays — his only day off — scrubbing headstones with a soft bristle brush and D/2 Biological Solution, which has been tested and used by both the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as the National Park Service.
“If you’re going to restore monuments, the key is, you don’t want to do more damage,” Lumish said. Some of the stones are decaying, and most of them are covered in mold and mildew. Cleanings range from only five minutes to as long as three hours, and Lumish kneels the entire time. He’s even turned it into a family affair, sometimes bringing his son Tyler with him.
A self-professed history buff, Lumish says he imagines what each vet’s life was like. “I think about their parents; if they were very young,” he said. “I think about their spouses; if they were in World War II and there was no way to communicate the way we can communicate now. I think about a wife at home, not knowing if (her husband is) dead or alive.”
On his Facebook page called “The Good Cemetarian,” Lumish writes some background about the soldiers whose graves he restores.
At the time of his 2015 interview with The Times, he estimated that he’d cleaned more than 300 graves in three different cemetaries in Florida. His goal was to move on to other cemetaries, so we can only imagine what his grand total must be now.
“They fought for the freedoms that you and I enjoy today,” Lumish said. “If I know that they did these things for my future, my children’s future, and I see that they’re forgotten, I feel a sense of responsibility to give their family a little bit of light.”
h/t Salty Veterans