National attention has landed Eric Dahl national recognition.
The Drumheller man cleans and maintains Drumheller's veterans graves, free of charge.
For Dahl, cleaning these graves has never been about the money. To him, it's a sense of duty and passion that drives him to spend his time at the Drumheller Cemetery.
"It's spider-webbed off into a lot of different ways that I didn't think would happen," Dahl explained; talking about how receiving national attention has affected him. "It isn't just the cleaning. It's about learning, myself, about the individuals. And that's what I find captures people's attention."
Recently, Dahl was commissioned to clean the grave of an 86 year old woman's husband and daughter's gravestone in Lacombe. The woman heard about Dahl through the coverage he received earlier this year and wanted the grave site to be clean and tidy for when she 'went', said Dahl.
"When somebody dies and you put down a monument for them, you can have that beautiful monument but there is no after-care program," explained Dahl. "It just sits there and mother nature takes over, over time. That's where I come in."
Visiting the grave sites in Lacombe, as well as working on the grave site he was commissioned to clean, led Dahl to discover where Lacombe's Canadian veterans were buried and he uncovered something that truly amazed him. Among the grave stones, Dhal was introduced to the last Canadian soldier that was killed in Afghanistan in 2011. Master Cpl. Byron Greff's name was engraved in gold on a memorial stone with 162 Canadian soldiers named before him.
Dahl said that working on veteran graves will never be a monetary exchange as his passion for engulfing himself in the history of these headstones is payment enough.
"I'm in my late forties and I've finally found what I love to do. I'm not going to stop," he said.
Dahl has been contacted by organizations from Manitoba, Ontario and BC as well as a graveyard in the State of Virginia to provide tips and tricks on what they can do to further honor and care for veterans' graves.
As for Dahl, he doesn't see himself slowing down or stopping. He plans on creating a national initiative that will continue to educate Canadians on the importance of keeping our fallen soldiers' grave sites honored and respected.