HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Mays Landing resident Frank Tomasello has been a Civil War buff since watching the Ken Burns documentary series on that subject about 15 years ago. He immediately went out to purchase a thick tome on the war that he quickly read cover to cover.

He subsequently became a member of the Colonel Louis R. Francine Camp #7 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was organized in 1881 and is the only male organization recognized by and representing the Grand Army of the Republic. The Camp is named in honor of Colonel Louis Raymond Francine who was killed at Gettysburg.

Recently Tomasello heard about a project performed by Andrew Lumish in Tampa, Florida. Lumish, who goes by the handle of The Good Cemeterian, cleans and posts photos of headstones along with details of the veterans buried there. This has led Tomasello, and a small group of fellow volunteers, to begin a similar program in Mays Landing. Those joining him on the project include David Hann, Scott Hann, Ryan McCloud, Robert Evans, Fred Mossbrucker, Wayne Grant and Paul Tucci.

For the past few weeks they have been working on headstones in the Presbyterian Cemetery on Route 50 where many of the monuments have fallen victim to age and weather. Like Lumish, Tomasello uses a scraper and a biological solution named D-2 to clean the stones. “The first principle is to do no harm,” he said. “That means using no bleach or wire brushes.”

The process can be painstaking, and each stone can take days to weeks of work depending on the level of deterioration.

Tomasello feels that this is the perfect time to work on this project as this May 30 will be the 150th anniversary of the founding of Decoration Day, later to become Memorial Day, to recognize those who fought in the Civil War.

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