Clarence Hollowell lives in Jacksonville, Florida where he works as a U.S. Postal Service mailman. While he works hard at his job, he also happens to work hard at his hobby.
On his Sundays off, Hollowell spends his time at the Old City Cemetery in Springfield, Florida, cleaning the headstones of veterans who have passed away. Hollowell has been doing this for two years.
Hollowell first got involved when he was living in North Carolina, his home state. As he shared with the Florida Times-Union, it’s his way of honoring those who served their country. Hollowell, himself, was enlisted in the Army for three years. He’s also had other family members serve in the military as well. Therefore, he feels that this was a way for him to give back to his military community.
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
He stated to the media, “Every town has a story. These guys probably never left their hometowns and, let’s face it, had the greatest adventure of their whole lives.”
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Speaking to Action News Jax he opened up about his hobby and how he will often clean up the gravestones of the military veterans who might not have anyone to remember them or their resting place. As a result, he can only guess that he’s cleaned around 700 headstones over the years.
He makes sure that he leaves the headstones as clean and legible as possible, citing that he wants to give the deceased a nice resting place, saying to Action News Jax, “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.”
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
According to Jacksonville reporter with Action News Jax, Alicia Tarancon, Hollowell will start the cleaning process by removing all moss and first from the headstones. Then, he will begin deep-cleaning them using a bristle brush before employing a toothbrush for the very fine details. He will then finish it off by spraying down the headstones using a specially-approved cemetery cleaning solution that will reverse any blackened or mossy stones back to their pristine grey or white status.
His very detailed cleaning process can actually take him a while to complete, and he has cleaned more than just one. But he doesn’t just clean the stones, he also does his research on all the deceased veterans in order to get a personal account of who they were. He finds most of his information on Ancestry.com. Definitely a wonderful way to honor those who have served their country. We commend you, Hollowell!
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.