Nicollet man cleans gravestones honoring veterans

For most people, cleaning is a chore with lots of spraying, scrubbing, and wiping. But for Matthew Mickelson, it has become a key part of his life.
Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 10:24 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - For most people, cleaning is a chore with lots of spraying, scrubbing, and wiping. But for Matthew Mickelson, it has become a key part of his life.

“It has been very humbling to know that this is a service that I am offering that people want to take advantage of,” Mickelson said.

On Jan. 1, Mickelson launched Headstone Revival, LLC. Over the last eight months, Mickelson has gone to work cleaning gravestones of Civil War veterans for the Friends of the Boy in Blue Civil War Memorial. Their project is entirely donation-based.

“It is very hard to describe or put into words, but it is priceless doing this and getting that warm feeling that you are helping someone remember the good memories of their lost one,” Mickelson said.

After family tragedies, losing both his father and his father-in-law just a few months apart, Mickelson and his loved ones spent time in cemeteries. It struck him that some of the gravestones had gotten dirty over time.

“It kind of put it in perspective, you know this is someone’s legacy and it needs to be carried on and these stones are works of art in a way and cleaning them up and giving them new life only seemed right,” Mickelson said.

Through research and communication with others who clean gravestones, Mickelson learned the best methods to make these markers of people’s lives like new again. Armed with the same special cleaning solutions used at Arlington National Cemetery and on national monuments he’s always perfecting his technique.

“You couldn’t see the lettering or be able to fill it out or read it, it just gives it a sharper image,” Mickelson said.

A sharper image indeed, the first grave he cleaned for the Friends of the Boy and Blue Memorial and to this day, looks brand new, but the gravestone is 110 years old and, if Mickelson has anything to say about it, never forgotten.

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