For six days of the week, Clarence Hollowell, army veteran, does his job of delivering mail and on a Sunday he spends his time off at Old City Cemetery in Springfield, Florida where he cleans the graves of fallen soldiers.
The 60-year old postal worker comes from a military family and expresses his patriotism in a unique way – by caring for the graves of fallen soldiers. Hollowell cleans the headstones and researches the departed he cares for in his rundown local cemetery.
They gave their tomorrows
Hollowell figures he has already cleaned about 600 headstones. His attitude is that these soldiers gave their tomorrows so he could have his today. He focuses particularly on cleaning the headstones of fallen soldiers between 18 and 20 years old.
Some of the headstones he has cleaned go back as far as 1918. On Memorial Day weekend, he was in the cemetery as usual cleaning the headstones of 1st Lt. Joseph H. Huau and Capt. S.L. Tibbitts.
Over the years, the headstones of the fallen soldiers have become overgrown and neglected. Hollowell heads to the cemetery with a cleaning arsenal including a special cleaning solution, a toothbrush, a soft-bristled brush, and a scraper.
It takes him a couple of weeks to carefully restore each headstone to its former glory. The 60-year-old starts by scraping off overgrowth and going over all the nooks and crannies with the bristled brush.
He sprays on the cleaning solution and leaves it for a while to allow the stone to absorb it. This kills bacteria and leaves the stone looking a bright gray. The special cleaning solution is the only one he is allowed to use in the cemetery and he orders it online at $40 a gallon.
Not just cleaning but researching too
While he does his work, he takes down the names of soldiers so he can research them on Ancestry.com and find out more about them. Putting a story to a name elevates what he’s doing to more than just a cleaning job. He’s honoring the dead for their sacrifice and making sure they’re remembered.
The cemetery consists of 50 acres and has three sections. Hollowell cleans veteran graves in all three sections. The latest headstones he cleaned were those of members of the U.S. Colored Troops, an Army branch consisting of early 1800 minority groups.
What this 60-year-old mailman does in his spare time puts the rest of us who spend it watching Netflix shame. The sight of him tending these headstones in the cemetery is enough to make the hardest of hearts soften.
This story of how he serves these fallen soldiers has made a deep impression on many as it has been shared on Twitter and through various Florida news outlets.
Veterans give their lives in service to their country and it’s inspiring that men like Clarence Hollowell give them honor and make sure their sacrifice is not forgotten.