Veterans do not get enough respect in the United States of America. After these brave souls risk their lives fighting for freedom and defending America, they return home to little fanfare and even less support from the government. Veterans are often forgotten and do not receive the support they need to transition back into American life as civilians, which can leave many veterans fighting crises like symptoms of mental health crisis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and homelessness.
Veteran’s Day is one day out of the year where Americans take a few moments to celebrate those who risked their safety to fight for the American cause. However, veterans are largely a forgotten population for the remaining 364 days of the year. While some organizations are out there to support veterans and to help veterans make a better life for themselves after their time in service, there are also some individuals who go above and beyond what is expected of them to do good for those who do so much in the name of the United States of America.
Andrew Lumish is popularly known as The Good Cemeterian – a play on words from the term Good Samaritan. Every Sunday, Lumish heads to cemeteries to clean the gravestones and monuments for “forgotten” veterans. Because many of the cemeteries that he cleans have been ignored for years, he has a lot of work to do in order to clean the tombstones for the war heroes.
As a resident of Tampa, Florida, Lumish has a lot of work to do. Florida is one of the many states that does not offer much support to veterans – and the same is true of the graveyards where veterans are buried after dedicating their life to service. Lumish must get very creative in order to clean the graves of these heroes.
According to The Good Cemeterian, it can take up to four months for him to restore a graveyard. He gets into every nook and cranny – and even uses cotton swabs to make sure he cleans every little corner of the gravestone.
To date, Andrew Lumish has restored more than 600 graveyards. He spends his days off going around Florida, making sure the resting places of American veterans are cared for because no one else is willing to do the hard work he is doing every week.
One of the reasons Lumish is willing to work so hard to clean the tombstones of forgotten veterans is because he believes that every visitor to a cemetery should be able to read who is buried in each plot. He wants to make sure these veterans are not forgotten to time and that people are given a chance to celebrate them and everything they gave to defend the United States from hate and terror.
“I have friends who served, friends who had lost both in battle and combat, and friends who lost their battle once they came back home. It’s important to me to see that they can be remembered and not forgotten,” he told Great Big Story.
Now, Lumish’s hard work has caught on and evolved into the nonprofit organization called “The Good Cemeterian Historical Preservation Project.” The organization aims to “restore and honor the past through inspiration and education.”