After several people saw two people lingering near a veteran’s grave site in a cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona, they knew something was going on. However, when they took a closer look, they were left completely stunned by what they had unintentionally caught the pair doing.
The unlikely duo, consisting of Tom Pawlak, who happens to be a baby boomer, and Levi Brown, a young teen, have quite the peculiar relationship. When people started noticing them lingering at Greenwood Cemetery, they were left stunned by what they were actual up to – showing respect to our fallen heroes in an incredible way.
Greenwood Cemetary (left), Tom Pawlak (top right), Levi Brown (bottom right)
The pair shares a rare, but beautiful, passion for “restoring veteran’s memorial markers,” according to KSAZ. They spend their free time together, removing years of tarnish and neglect from the gravestones and making them shine once again.
Of course, Pawlak has been doing this for years, as a member of the Honor and Remember Program. Sadly, he began his passion after he had lost one of his friends and explains that it never gets any easier emotionally. “It chokes you up every time and my buddy died 50 years ago, and still, whenever I start giving a talk and explain, ‘My buddy Ken,’ you just can’t talk,” said Pawlak.
Brown, who’s just 13 years old, initially started restoring the markers as an Eagle Scout Project after he was inspired by Pawlak. Initially, he gathered a team to polish and restore around 250 bronze veteran grave markers. “Before there was hard water stains and other stains from mother nature destroying it and by shining these up and polishing them, it will keep them preserved for longer and look nicer,” Brown explained, according to KPNX. “I was trying to time it up with Memorial Day. That way when they have their big ceremony out here for Memorial Day they can see all of these,” he added.
“I thought I dreamed big but look at what he’s doing,” Pawlak said. “It’s guys like that that are going to be around to take over. I’m 65 and not going to be around forever.”
The kind gesture will undoubtedly be noticed by many loved ones who go to visit their heroes’ graves this Memorial Day. Of course, they will have no clue who made the markers look like new, but they will be happy with the kind gesture. To make the fallen heroes grave sites look even better, the Honor and Remember organization and Arizona American Legion, which Brown happens to be a member of, have placed 350 flags at the cemetery. Each flag has the name of a fallen Arizona hero on it.
There is no better time than now to honor our nation’s fallen heroes with the Memorial Day holiday drawing near. Many people attend a graveside tribute to honor our military members who have once served to protect our nation and those in Arizona will notice the spotless markers that appear “brand new,” thanks to two selfless individuals.
There aren’t too many people who would take the time out of their day to not only honor these fallen heroes but to do something that requires some elbow grease in order to show their appreciation. There’s something about what Brown and Pawlak are doing that should inspire us all to do something similar in our own neighborhoods. I think it’s safe to say, it’s the least we could do; we owe a big debt to our veterans.