Glenn praises man who meticulously restores veterans' gravestones: 'You've started something really amazing'

Andrew Lumish is known as the “The Good Cemeterian” for meticulously cleaning and restoring the gravestones of veterans. He joined Glenn on radio Friday to share his story.

A photographer in his spare time, Lumish came across headstones dating as far back as the Civil War, and was astonished to see the beautiful old gravestones were covered with dirt, mold and other grime.

“It kind of infuriated me,” he said. “I was really upset by it.”

He decided to learn how to clean gravestones properly, and his labor of love took off. He has since been honored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

John Newton Dugger was born more than 141 years ago on June 2nd 1876 when Ulysses S Grant's occupied the Oval Office as the 18th President of the United States... ▪▪▪ Interesting events that occurred during Mr. Duggers birth year included... •• On March 7th 1876... Alexander Graham Bell is granted a patent for his new invention... He calls it the "Telephone" •• On June 25th... The Battle of Little Bighorn takes place... 300 men of the United States 7th Cavalry Regiment led by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer are wiped out by 5000 Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes lead by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse... •• On August 1st 1876 Colorado is admitted as the 38th state in the Union... John and his Mother Martha lived with Martha's Brother Newton Dugger in Hillsborough County, Florida…John’s uncle served with the Confederate States Army in Company 57 Georgia Infantry during the Civil War… On August 1st 1883, Uncle Newton was granted 159 acres of land in return for his military service which he utilized for general farming as a source of income… John Newton Dugger passed away on August 23rd 1895... He was just 19 years old... John Newton Dugger... Before & After... #veteran #army #military #tampa #tampabay #bayarea #florida #history #historic #picture:#confederatestatesarmy #civilwar #soldier #military #cemetery #monument #tombstone #gravestone #graveyard_life #photography #picture #before&after

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With each restoration, Lumish has uncovered the story behind headstone --- which is the reason Glenn wanted to talk to him.

"You said one phrase that just sounded like it was twice as loud as anything else. You said, 'I'm uncovering history.'" Glenn said

Initially cautious about telling these personal stories, Lumish ultimately decided it was the right thing to do.

“Nothing's a flat road. Nothing goes in a straight line. So early on I decided we're going to tell their story, but tell it in their entirety, ” Lumish said.

For now, Lumish's work can be seen on social media, but Glenn had a gut feeling that might change soon.

"I just have this feeling that what you're doing is way beyond anything that you might even understand at this point. You've started something really, really amazing," Glenn said.

GLENN: I saw a story about a guy named Andrew Lumish. He was featured on NBC news. A 46-year-old guy from Tampa, Florida, who happened to see the grave stones in a Tampa cemetery of these heroes.

And they were all falling part. I mean, you could imagine, you know, the mildew and the mold and the stains and everything else just from, you know, the weather in Tampa for all of those years. So he went out by himself and just started cleaning these monuments and cleaning these, you know, cemetery markers. He's now cleaned over 500 monuments. And he's a guy who's never served in the military.

And what I liked about this, it wasn't some guy going out and doing something that I promise you at some point they're going to shut him down because of some environmental reason or some stupid thing like that. But what I liked about him was the fact that he understood and was connecting with history because of this. And I think there's something really cool about this.

We wanted to get him on the phone. Andrew Lumish from Tampa, Florida, welcome to the program, sir. How are you?

ANDREW: I'm well. Glenn, thank you so much for having me this morning. I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to you.

GLENN: I'm thrilled. I saw your story a couple of days ago when it came out. First of all, explain how you got into it, and what you're doing, and what you've discovered.

ANDREW: Okay. Well, it's kind of multifaceted. Initially, there's obvious reasons and there's some reasons that are personal.

Part of it was, I love photography. And I photograph everything. I ended up stumbling upon a very old cemetery that is opened in 1850 in downtown Tampa, oldest cemetery in the area, and it was beautiful so I began to photograph it. And we went to a second cemetery, and I noticed the pure beauty of it, but something caught my eye, and it was the incredibly poor condition of monuments of heroes that served in every conflict from the Mexican wars to the Civil War to the Spanish-American War and up until World War II and Vietnam.

And I saw how terrible they were, and immediately it kind of infuriated me.

I was really upset by it. And so what I did, I began to research how to properly restore the monuments that are marble and granite and sandstone and every type of material, and I learned how to restore the monuments properly in the same way that they are restored in our national cemeteries, including Arlington. So I began to, on my day off, go to some of the historic cemeteries and restore some monuments, and that's how it began.

GLENN: Okay. So Andrew, a couple of things. First, I'm ashamed to say this but my first thought, when I saw this, was: How come he hasn't been stopped yet? And I don't mean because you're doing something wrong. There's got to be somebody out there in the government who can find something wrong with what you're doing.

Have you gotten any pushback at all?

ANDREW: None whatsoever.

GLENN: That's amazing.

ANDREW: I've been honored by the Department of veterans affairs because my story has gone viral several times, and they kind of piggybacked a little bit, because they share my story and what I do.

I've been honored by Governor Rick Scott at the state capital. I was invited, and my assistant and I, we had dinner at the Governor's mansion after receiving a wonderful volunteer award from Governor Scott and the Florida cabinet. And this week I was actually honored by all the Hillsboro County commissioners and the ceremony in downtown Tampa as well. So no pushback at all.

GLENN: So the thing that really drove me to get you on the phone was one -- do you listen to my program at all? Or do you know who am I call?

ANDREW: Yes.

GLENN: I don't mean "do you know who I am," I mean have you followed at all -- I'm really into history. And you said --

ANDREW: Yes, I do know that.

GLENN: You said one phrase that just sounded like it was twice as loud as anything else. You said, "I'm uncovering history."

ANDREW: Well, initially, I told you earlier, initially it became just the restorations themselves. But it has evolved, and what I decided to do was, I have a wonderful assistant who helps me with research because I'm very busy. She helps me fill in the blanks.

What we do now, we've used different resources, online, genealogy resources, libraries, and we are able to go back in time. It's 2017, so when we really fortunate that we can do the things that we do. So we're able to look at entire person's life. So not only will you see the before, what it looked like before, the terrible condition that the monuments were in before, but you'll see the after picture of the monument, but we tell their entire life story from the day they're born until their final day here on earth. We talked about all their achievement, accomplishments. I will say, I was somewhat torn, because sometimes you uncover some things that may not be particularly flattering.

But I was torn as to whether or not when we're telling these stories about these heroes whether we should talk about it, and we all have bumpy roads.

GLENN: Yeah.

ANDREW: Nothing's a flat road. Nothing goes in a straight line. So early on I decided we're going to tell their story but tell it in their entirety. We will talk about the nature --

GLENN: Good for you.

ANDREW: We put it in perspective.

GLENN: What was the thing that made you -- what did you stumble on -- I don't have to tell me the name of the person but what did you stumble across you were like, oh, man. What was it?

ANDREW: Well, there's a catalyst to all this as well. I did serve. However, I have friends who have served.

I also have a wonderful assistant, and he was 12 years in the military, and I was his confidante in a lot of ways, and unbeknownst to me, I really don't talk about this much. But I'm beginning to open up about it a little bit more.

He was a great guy. Super social. Wonderful guy. 12 years, he was still a reservist, he worked with me, on my team, and one day he just told me what he was going to do his entire weekend, and he went -- he told me everything, and then I texted him on a Sunday to let him know what his schedule was for Monday.

Well, a long story short, he had PTSD, and he took his life.

And when I do these restorations, and I had no idea. It was a complete and utter shock to me. When I do these restorations, I think of him. Not only do I tell the stories and complete these restorations, but he is always, always by my side. Because I don't want him to be forgotten either. It's very important.

GLENN: What was his name, Andrew?

ANDREW: Christopher Scott.

GLENN: Tell me about the World War I veteran who died on the USS Tampa. A German submarine attack.

ANDREW: Incredible story. 18 years old. Lewis Franklin Vaughn, at the age of 18, he ended up being, you know, in the Navy, essentially. And he served on the USS Tampa. By 1918, the war was coming to a close. And Germany was getting desperate. So all they had left, essentially, were submarine forces. And they were not going by rules of engagement, and they were submarining all ships going into England and London. They were torpedoing just supply ships that would be able to supply the United Kingdom.

So the USS Tampa, what their job was at the time was escort these supply ships to London and all open the UK to make sure that they were safe. On September 26, 1988, the German torpedo killed everyone on board. So Lewis Franklin Vaughn died on that day, but the interesting thing, and the personal thing on Mr. Vaughn, or young Mr. Vaughn was that before he chose to join the military to serve his country, he had three sisters. None of them lived to be beyond 14 months old. And I can imagine the conversation he had with his parents sitting at the table in his home, and they already lost all of their children. He's the only one who survived, and then he was killed by the Germans near the end, near the close of the first world war in September of 1918.

GLENN: Is there anything -- have you thought about -- do you, A, do the research on the person prior to, or after, or while you're cleaning the headstone?

ANDREW: It's a combination of all of the above. It all depends on the circumstances. It's a combination. You know, it depends on the circumstances. Every situation has its own set of circumstances.

Occasionally I will take students with me, high school students who love to go and I'll have them step back in the footsteps. And it's always good to know the history of the person and the events of that.

So I'll have them stand in the -- descendants who would have stood there at the funeral, and we talk about what the world was like, what the United States was when they were alive and when they die.

And what's great, you get the bad raps on the Millennials. The attention and love that these high school kids have, from different backgrounds -- you know what it's like in Tampa. It's muddy. It's wet. And they don't mind. They sweat. They get out there, and they have a great time and they learn a history lesson.

So the negativity about Millennials. But my experience, my own son, about to turn 21, it's been fantastic. It's been a great experience. And not just for them. It's therapeutic for me as well.

GLENN: Andrew, do you have a website? What's your website?

ANDREW: Well, we're working on it. We're building a website right now. It's going to be the goodcemeterian.com and the goodcemeterian.org, but right now we do most of everything on social media. The Facebook page is called the Good Cemeterian. It's a very interactive Facebook page. We have wonderful interaction from all over the world.

But the websites will be up and running in the next month or so. We also have a nonprofit, and we help organizations all across the -- locally for the most part now, but we vet military organizations that do good, especially for those who came home, and then they need that help. I always think of Chris in these moments.

So what we do is we -- we help support different organizations, so that they can achieve the goals that they want so they can make the lives of those who served our country much more pleasant and much more adaptable once getting home.

GLENN: Andrew Lumish, a guy who was a photographer, who started something that is now becoming a life passion, and I think Andrew is -- I just have this feeling that what you're doing is way beyond anything that you might even understand at this point.

You've started something really, really amazing. Thank you so much, Andrew. Appreciate it.

ANDREW: Thank you for having me this morning, Glenn. I do appreciate it, and thank you again, and thank you to all the men and women who serve our country. You are not forgotten. You are so important to the fabric of our society today, and we will continue doing what we do to support you.

GLENN: God bless you, Andrew, thank you very much. I hope so actually shake your hand sometime.

PAT: Great.

GLENN: Andrew Lumish.

STU: Fantastic. Just doing something outside in Tampa this time of year is a service to your country.

GLENN: Oh, yeah. Just walking from your front door to your car. I'm pretty brave and heroic. I went to work once this week.

STU: Just the once.

GLENN: I left my house, got into the car. I made it to the parking lot and I thought, I have we get out of the car and walk in, and we don't have, you know, air conditioned parking.

So I was at work technically, kind of.

STU: And here's your Purple Heart.

GLENN: What an amazing story.

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.