The Good Cemeterian is a true good samaritan every Sunday.
People choose all kinds of ways to honor veterans, whether it’s visiting Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C. or thanking them for their service personally, but some people take this ‘job’ of honoring those who have served very seriously. For Andrew Lumish, a 46-year-old owner of a carpet and upholstery cleaning service in Tampa, he has taken it upon himself to commemorate the fallen veterans by cleaning their headstones; he calls himself The Good Cemeterian.
While it might not sound like a big job, that might be because you’ve never seen or never noticed just how awfully dirty headstones can get. The headstones themselves are often not maintained by cemetery staff, only the surrounding grounds, so it’s up to family members to make sure they stay clean. For those that don’t have people visiting their funeral plots or those with only elderly people visiting, it can be hard to have someone continuously clean a veteran’s headstone.
That’s where Lumish comes in. Lumish said it all started when he visited some local cemeteries to take photos because photography is his hobby. In his pursuit of older headstones and historic graves, he began reading some of the words on the stones and realized some of them were veterans and he was bothered by what he saw.
“They’d been neglected from the time they’d been buried,” Lumish told the Tampa Bay Times. “Their final resting places were total disasters.”
Instead of leaving the headstones in disarray, Lumish came up with the idea of cleaning them on his day off every week, which is Sunday. Though he had never cleaned a headstone before, he developed a simple technique of using a soft bristle brush and scrubbing every inch of the headstone with a special solution, making sure to get in between the letters and numbers. The results are absolutely amazing, whether it takes 20 minutes, 2 hours, or 2 months.
He said that he was inspired because these people gave their whole lives to serve at whatever time they were enlisted and that you could barely even make out their names to look them up and find out their story.
“They were forgotten. I couldn’t properly thank them. I couldn’t properly understand who they were or what they were about,” Lumish told CBS News. “Whereas if you properly restore the monuments, you can begin an entire conversation, and potentially — in a figurative sense — bring that person back to life.”
Lumish has stated that he truly enjoys the work he does and wishes he could do it every single day instead of just once a week. He loves uncovering the stories of the veterans whose tombs he’s restored and uses his Facebook page as a place to share photos of the before and after photos as well as stories about some of the veterans. The Good Cemeterian was just granted non-profit status so that he can receive donations to keep out-of-pocket costs to a minimum continue his work in the three local cemeteries.
Due to recent exposure, Lumish has earned tons of fans on Facebook, something that he responds to humbly and tries to keep the adoration to a minimum.
“I am appreciative of it, but I’m unworthy of the same respect of someone who chooses to go the route to serve our country,” Lumish told CBS News. “And for someone to approach me, to show me that level of respect, it’s humbling, to say the least.”
Though there are thousands more headstones to clean just in his city and county alone, Lumish maintains that eventually he will get to all of them. Since he loves doing it, the prospect is exciting, not daunting, and he knows that his passion for this work is what will keep him alive for a long time. You can follow him on Facebook here or follow him on Instagram here.