It’s a Grave Misunderstanding

I have written frequently about the preservation of tombstones. Apparently, one person did not “get the word.” A rather old article in the Los Angeles Times describes how one well-intentioned person has caused potential long-term damage to many Civil War tombstones. He thought he was helping preserve the tombstones but his efforts had the opposite effect. Not only did he not realize the damage he was causing, he even received commendations from cemetery officials, Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana), the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

For three years, Gene-o Platt cleaned tombstones, removing fungus and lichen. He then brushed several layers of white-pigmented sealer onto the Georgia marble tombstones. Using drills and grinding tools, he also enhanced worn lettering and then painted them gold. He invested thousands of hours and dollars in the project, hoping his example would be copied nationwide.

What Mr. Platt did not realize is that the sealer will cause the marble to deteriorate from the inside out because moisture in the rock can’t escape. In addition, black lithochrome paint should be used for lettering, not gold.

The Veterans Administration, which owns Civil War tombstones, bars sealer from being applied to its monuments, said Mike Nacincik, a spokesman for the VA’s National Cemetery Administration.

You can read more about this story in the Los Angeles Times’ web site at http://lat.ms/2mu8QZX.

4 Comments

Jeanne A Jeffries March 6, 2017 at 3:18 pm

A labor of love & respect; but…like so many others, led to damage. Over 20 years we have learned to use photo with sunlite & be very gentle to old stones. Better nothing than damage. Yet others continue to tell with pride about the cleaning successes.

Liked by 1 person

David Paul Davenport March 7, 2017 at 1:38 pm

The black lithochrome paint can be purchased at http://www.granitesalesandsupply.com/html/lithichrome.html

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It is very disappointing the man and his supporters were refusing to understand why what he did was a mistake.

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david paul davenport March 8, 2017 at 10:57 pm

I suppose this is being brought to our attention as a cautionary tale. The link is to an LA Times article published 12 years ago! BTW – I sure wish the Times would have printed the name of the soldier alleged to have been age 6-10 when the war took place. I suspect that this was a case of the researcher erroneously matching the name of a boy to someone of the same name who was much older.

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