Those of us powering through the 9-5 lifestyle treasure our days off. For me, they are perfect opportunities to lie around doing absolutely nothing, re-enact Bruno Mars’ Lazy Song and catch up on my favorite Netflix shows. My days off are the perfect chance to be absolutely selfishly slothful. However, one Florida native has put us couch potatoes to shame by dedicating his days off to doing something few ever think of: caring for the dead.
Tampa resident Andrew Lumish owns a carpet and upholstery cleaning service and has just one day off a week. Instead of taking the well-deserved time to rest, he spends hours cleaning and restoring derelict tombstones. This is because Andrew is committed to preserving the memories of veterans who put their lives on the line for their country.
Recalling how he got into the grave cleaning business, Andrew described how he noticed that many tombstones were “filled with moss” and “very dirty” when photographing a historic cemetery. He was greatly disturbed by this because he saw the poor state of these veterans’ resting places as a sign that their legacy was being forgotten.
“There were monuments for veterans who served in every conflict, from the Civil War and the different Indian wars, going nearly to the mid-1800s, and no one was taking care of them. It upset me to see the condition they were in.”
“They were forgotten. I couldn’t properly thank them. I couldn’t properly understand who they were or what they were about.”
As a result, Andrew decided to learn how to clean graves in order to keep the memories of these men and women alive. This way, visitors could properly read the epitaphs inscribed unto these tombstones and remember all the sacrifices that had been made for their country.
“If they can’t read it at all, they can’t celebrate it, they can’t honor that person, they can’t appreciate that person. 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.”
Andrew didn’t simply head over to the nearest cemetery with some soap and water, he learned the proper system which the government uses to maintain graves in national cemeteries like Arlington and began spending his days off restoring veterans’ tombstones with painstaking detail.
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