LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As Veterans Day nears closer, two local Kentucky men are doing their part to restore some glory to our nation's heroes. Born out of a desire to do something during the pandemic, the two friends are making it their mission to clean headstones belonging to fallen soldiers and patriots across the Bluegrass.
On a fall day on the grounds of Lexington's Cove Haven Cemetery, the brushes of Steve Gahafer and Patrick Wesolosky can be heard scrubbing away. The two men, who are members of the Lafayette Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, are restoring glory to strangers.
"I'm amazed every time we clean one. To me, being out here is really peaceful," Steve Gahafer said.
It is rare if ever they clean a stone belonging to someone they know, but all of the more than a hundred sites they've cleaned belong to veterans, patriots, and men who served their country.
Patrick Wesolosky said, "These are American Veterans. They served our military, they served our country, whether it be during peace time or war time, they deserve that respect."
Initially, Wesolosky was researching and recording the locations of Revolutionary War graves. But he soon realized many of these headstones, some hundreds of years old, had not been maintained for decades.
"These men did amazing things, and for people to just neglect them... it kind of pulls at your heartstrings. It just gave us some more motivation to get out and do the things we've been doing," Wesolosky said.
So, the men brushed up on proper cleaning techniques, taking care to cause no harm. As they scrub and restore the headstones, they think about the man the life lived and the sacrifices he made.
Gahafer said, "You think about what they lived through, what they did so that we're where we're at today."
They also reflect on how lucky they feel to do this for a person who is no longer here and the family who may not be able to do it themselves.
"Eventually, when we're doing it, it will be like little parts of Arlington. It'll just be white glowing stones, and these gentlemen earned it," Wesolosky said.
Ensuring these names don't die with the man and the sacrifices they made are felt for generations to come.
Gahafer said, "It matters because these guys sacrificed a lot, a whole lot. and that never needs to be forgotten."