Clarke County has a Good Samaritan who is working hard in the cemetery to honor the veterans who have passed away. The very patriotic citizen doesn’t desire accolades or recognition for his work and desires to remain anonymous to the community; he simply desires to honor those who have given everything to protect the country.
His call to restore and save the veteran headstones and markers started with just a simple walk through Odd Fellows Cemetery in Quitman.
“A couple months ago, I decided to just walk through the cemetery. I was just looking around and saw the amount of veteran headstones that were neglected. It made me sick that it seemed like they were forgotten. With all the headstones that were black and covered in algae, it just seemed like they had been forgotten,” expressed the citizen. “These men and women fought for our country and got us where we are today. I just felt a calling to come out here and give back to and honor these men. I want to make sure they are remembered and honored how they should be. I clean the headstones and put a flag next to them because a flag should always be flown next to a veteran headstone every day of the year.”
While he has been fulfilling his calling for about a month now, he was actually very nervous about doing the work to begin with. Although he has purchased the materials to clean and the flags on his own, he was unsure of how the different families would react to his working on the headstones and markers. Although he would like to make sure to restore each veteran memorial he comes across, he does respect all families and their wishes.
“I was skeptical about doing this at first, but I’d done a bunch of research. All of the veteran markers are government owned headstones,” said the citizen. “The family could tell me not to touch them, and that is what I was nervous about to begin with. If a family member did come out and ask me not to touch it, then I would respect that and not touch it.”
Families can be assured that he is properly taking care of each headstone and marker. He does not do anything that could damage the property, such as an acid wash or pressure washing. Instead, he has done his research and selected a spray that continues to work long after he has worked on it and is approved and safe for the stone.
“There is a protocol you have to follow through the Veteran Affairs. The main goal is to do no harm to the stones. There are certain products that you’re supposed to use, like the one that I use is approved through the VA and is what is used in Arlington to clean headstones,” explained the citizen. “The biological growth that covers them will actually eat the stone over time. The stuff that I use on the stones can be scrubbed and will get most of the stuff off, but it won’t look perfect every time when it is first done. Give it a couple months, though, and the spray I use is still working on it and killing the biological growth so that it ends up being white again.”
He has even found a way to help protect the bronze markers and help them continue to look like new no matter how much direct sunlight they receive.
“I linked up with a couple of guys. They have something called Mission Restore Bronze, and this guy sends out jars of wax to families that have veterans who’ve passed away,” informed the citizen. “After you restore a bronze headstone and make sure it looks good, you put this wax over it, and it will always look new as long as you keep the wax on it.”
This outstanding citizen has his work cut out for him. Already, he has restored multiple headstones, some of which are traced back to the Civil War. It will take him a long time to be able to complete each of the headstones in Odd Fellows Cemetery since he is still finding more and more each time he walks through, but he doesn’t plan to stop once he has finished the hundreds of markers there.
“I don’t plan to just do it here; I plan to go all through Clarke County,” declared the citizen. “It’s going to take time. I’m just one man, and there are hundreds of headstones.”
Clarke County has always had many great men in the service fighting for this nation. It is also blessed to have citizens who support and respect its veterans, even after they have passed. He may not want his name known or to be in the spotlight, but his dedication and honor for all the fallen veterans are greatly appreciated by the families and citizens of Clarke County.