ELLSWORTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – On any given day you find Marc Blanchette at the Woodbine Cemetery in Ellsworth.
“No one has ever called me weird,” he said.
Since his retirement months ago, Blanchette has spent nearly every day kneeling in front of graves of men and women whom he has never met.
He painstakingly scrubbed dozens of graves of veterans in the cemetery. He said it is a way for him to honor those who served our country.
Using a special cleaner and a number of different brushes and tools, Blanchette has mastered the art of making even the oldest headstone look brand new.
It all started with the grave of someone close to his heart: his best friend Michael.
"Michael was the first one. I've always made sure that his stone is clean," Blanchette said.
Michael served in the U.S. Navy and was killed in a plane crash. Blanchette said after cleaning Michael’s grave he could not stop.
"I go around. I pick up the flags. I hate to see a flag on the ground,” he said.
Not only does he clean the graves, he learns the stories of the heroes behind them. He has also cleaned the graves of local pastors and even small children.
"Wherever they are, they're laughing at me,” Blanchette joked as he used a wooden skewer to pick grime out of every letter of one stone. "They're saying ‘Wish I had a shorter name don't ya?’"
For Blanchette it has become a way to heal, while ensuring the brave Mainers who served the country are never forgotten.
"I want them to be able to see the names. I don't want them to just walk by the stone. To me these men and women are heroes. There's no two ways about it,” he said.
Donate to Honor Flight Maine! NEWS CENTER is holding a telethon all day Thursday to raise money to send Maine veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials there. Learn more
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