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Man Cleans Veterans' Headstones (Video)

| by Sheena Vasani

One man has been dubbed "The Good Cemeterian" after he selflessly stepped in to restore and clean the headstones on veterans' graves (video below).

Andrew Lumish, 46, stumbled upon the unkempt L'Unione Italiana Cemetery in Tampa, Florida, while pursuing his passion for photography, NBC News reports.

Despite having no personal connection to any of the soldiers, nor a military background, Lumish was deeply bothered by the graves that were covered in dirt and grime.

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"I put myself in the shoes of the people who are here," he says, adding the sight also reminded of those soldiers he's known personally who died, NPR reports. "I think of the times in which they lived. I think of their families and I think about what they fought for."

Determined to honor the fallen soldiers properly, Lumish began scrubbing and cleaning each gravestone -- some of which dated back to the Civil War -- and never stopped. He has since cleaned more than 600.

"I trained myself on proper techniques that we utilize in all of our national cemeteries to begin restoring these monuments," Lumish explained.

"The process will take one, two, three, four months total before restoration is complete," he added.

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Lumish has since captured national attention for his good deeds, even being recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Relatives of some of the fallen soldiers have been especially touched, particularly older ones unable to visit and clean the gravestones themselves.

"That's my flesh and blood there," said Joe Lazzara of a relative's gravestone Lumish has cleaned. "My mother, my father, my sister's buried there-- baby sister. And me and [my wife] will be buried there too."

For Lumish, it's not about gaining applause and recognition.

"I feel connected to them," he said. "And it's very important for me to be able to tell their story and I love to be able to show these individuals and show their accomplishments."

"I'm uncovering history," he added. "I'm telling a story and probably indirectly I'm saying, you know, if you think you got it bad, if you think you got it tough, there's people, lots of people ... that aren't in our history books."

Lumish was so moved by each veteran's story, he went out of his way to research their backgrounds and created a Facebook page to post their stories.

"We uncover heroes," he says. "They were not considered heroes of their day, so I hope that some of the stories that I tell make people appreciate the men and women that serve currently. There are heroes today that surround us on a daily basis."

Sources: NBC News, NPR, The Good Cemeterian/Facebook / Photo credit: Universal Pops/Flickr

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