Andrew Lumish initially went to an old cemetery to pursue his passion of photography, but it’s led him to a new mission. Lumish recently appeared on “The Glenn Beck Program” to discuss his mission to clean and restore gravestones of veterans at a cemetery in Tampa, Florida.
After seeing how deteriorated the gravestones of veterans, some who had even served in the Civil War, Lumish described how “immediately it kind of infuriated me. I was really upset by it.” He began researching how to properly restore these gravestones.
As Lumish explained to Beck, he’s not merely cleaning these markers, but telling their story, despite initial hesitation. Lumish’s followers over social media can see gravestones, once barely readable, to looking like new, along with the story of the soldier who is buried there.
Lumish has been recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs and by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. To Beck’s pleasant surprise, he’s not only been recognized but on pushback, Lumish says there is “none whatsoever.”
••• Florida native Armando “Andy” Diaz was born in Tampa, Florida nearly 94 years ago on August 12th 1923… Armando had brown hair and hazel eyes… Andy enlisted to serve The United States Army on June 3rd 1940 and ranked Sergeant by the time he was honorably discharged on May 13th 1945… Sergeant Armando “Andy” Diaz passed away on January 21st 1976… The following is quoted from his obituary which was published in the Tampa Tribune January 24th 1976: “DIAZ Masonic Funeral Services for Mr. Armando “Andy” Diaz, 52 of 806 W. Adalee will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. from the A.P. Boza Riverside Chapel with Interment to follow in Woodlawn Cemetery. Mr. Diaz was a native of Tampa, a member of A. W. Windhorst Lodge No. 185, Scottish Rite Temple, A Veteran of WW II, Local Naval Reserve for 27 years, and employed by the General Telephone Co. of Tampa. Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Mary (Reale) Diaz; of Tampa; a step daughter, Sandra Smith of Tampa; a son, Anthony Diaz and a step son, Thomas Smith of Tampa; three sisters, Mrs. Hortencia Gonzalez and Mrs. Digna Perez of Tampa and Mrs. Delia Trujillo of Miami, Fla; two brothers, Emilio Diaz of Tampa and Rogelio Diaz of Miami, Fla. And several nieces and nephews. Please omit flowers in lieu of friends may donate to the American Heart Fund. A. W. Windhorst Lodge No. 185 will furnish Pallbearers and be in charge of Services.” Armando "Andy" Diaz… Proud United States Army Veteran of the Second World War, beloved Father and Husband… Before & After… #veteran #army #military #tampa #tampabay #bayarea #florida #history #historic #family #father #husband #cemetery #monument #tombstone #gravestone #graveyard_life #monument #america #american #worldwarII #Worldwar2 #photography #soldier #USA #hero #restoration #before&after
The recognition has not only been from officials, but from the family members of the veterans it gives a sense of peace too. NBC News, which also profiled Lumish, mentioned World War II veteran Joe Lazzara, whose family learned of Lumish’s efforts and reached out to him.
Lazzara’s brother, Sam, 90, “was particularly touched.” Sam says his “flesh and blood” is there, with his other family members buried there as well. Sam is unable to get to the cemetery so easily, but of Lumish’s work, he says “God brought him down to us.”
Lumish has been cleaning tombs for over two and a half years now, and does so on his one day off, Sunday, with some projects taking twenty minutes, others three hours, Task & Purpose mentioned. He even spends hours in the hot Florida sun to do so over the summer.
For those who wish to engage in similar efforts, Lumish recommends D/2 Biological Solution. Lumish has teamed up with them to provide a discount, with a portion of the proceeds going towards The Good Cemeterian.
There is also a link on the Facebook page to a Go Fund Me page set up by The Good Cemeterian, which is an official tax exempt non-profit organization, and has been since March 2017. The page says they “hope to someday assist veteran organizations on a national level.”