Andrew Lumish cleans and restores a gravestone. Lumish has restored 1,500 gravestones since he began his quest five years ago. (Image Source: Fox News video screenshot)
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When Andrew Lumish, a cleaning company owner, visited a cemetery near Tampa, Florida, five years ago, he knew that something was wrong. Gravestones belonging to veterans were blackened and covered with years of neglect. He also knew that he had the skill set to help keep them from being forgotten.
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Lumish, who calls himself the “good cemeterian,” learned how to properly clean and restore gravestones without damaging them. After getting permission from the cemetery, he begins his work. His process requires a specific D/2 biological solution so that he won’t accidentally end up ruining the stone — and lots of time.
“A monument restoration has to be done by hand, you cannot use a pressure washer…so a monument will take minimally two months to restore and some take in excess of a year,” Lumish told Fox News. “I won’t reveal a restoration until it’s reached its pinnacle and peak and it’s ready to be shown.”
Once a gravestone is cleaned, Lumish takes a picture of it, and posts the before and after pictures on social media. He also includes a brief story about the veteran buried at that gravesite. Lumish explained:
The individuals that we honor didn’t consider themselves heroes, they didn’t toot their own horn or pat themselves on the back—we’re doing it now…we don’t only talk about their service, we talk about their lives, from the day they were born until their last day on earth. We are delving into that person’s life so that we can respectfully tell what that person went through…I don’t want anyone to be forgotten.”
So far, Lumish has managed to restore the grave markers of around 1,500 veterans.
When Lumish cleans these gravestones, he doesn’t only think about the veterans whose legacy he is preserving. He is also doing this for a veteran he knew personally and lost. Lumish’s friend Chris Scala was a 12-year U.S. Air Force veteran who committed suicide after a battle with PTSD.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans are at a 22 percent higher risk of suicide than other American adults.
"We honor the past, but I also always honor him,” Lumish said, referencing Scala. “I always think of him."
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