If he wasn’t already hardworking enough as a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, one Florida man spends his Sundays off cleaning veterans’ graves at local cemeteries.
Clarence Hollowell of Jacksonville, Florida, has been visiting the Old City Cemetery in Springfield, Florida, for about two years and slowly scrubbing the life back into headstones of long-dead veterans.
He first started the project a few years back while still living in his home state of North Carolina.
“This is my way of honoring America’s veterans,” Hollowell told the Florida Times-Union, according to a tweet from reporter Emily Bloch.
Some men golf on their days off. Clarence Hollowell, 60, cleans headstones. This morning, I followed him around the Old City Cemetery and watched the process. “This is my way of honoring America’s veterans,” he said. @jaxdotcom story coming soon. pic.twitter.com/Vq7KiwMZN2
— Emily Bloch (@emdrums) May 26, 2019
Hollowell, who served in the Army for three years and has other military family members, likes doing this as a service for his community.
“Every town has a story,” he told the Florida Times-Union. “These guys probably never left their hometowns and, let’s face it, had the greatest adventure of their whole lives.”
Hollowell also spoke to Action News Jax in May about cleaning the gravesites of often-forgotten military veterans. He estimates he’s cleaned about 700 headstones.
“They didn’t want to go to war but they did and they didn’t come home and they defended this country and they fought for this country,” he said of the veterans whose markers he makes clean and readable again.
Here’s a tweet from Jacksonville reporter Alicia Tarancon about his story:
NEXT at NOON: while most people have the day off on Memorial Day I’ll show you what one local veteran is doing to make sure that those who served and gave their lives for our country aren’t forgotten @ActionNewsJax @WOKVNews pic.twitter.com/VSxfAP7bkc
— Alicia Tarancon (@AliciaANJax) May 25, 2020
His process involves scraping away moss and dirt, brushing the stone with a bristle brush and toothbrush, and spraying the stones with a specially-approved cemetery cleaning solution that changes the blackened or mossy stone color back to gray and white.
It takes several weeks to finish one headstone.
But Hollowell does more than just clean a veteran’s final resting place. After he’s started on a grave, he also researches the late veteran’s name online, mostly using Ancestry.com, to find out more about him or her.
What a great way to honor veterans!