Franklin Davis has cancer and diabetes, and is kicked out of the Washington, D.C., homeless shelter where he stays at 8 a.m. each morning.
This week, the Vietnam veteran has been heading to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial park, cleaning up the trash that has accumulated during the ongoing government shutdown. The homeless veteran gained some viral fame this week after CNN published a picture of him cleaning the park on a cold and wintry day. The picture was shared on Reddit and reached the top of the front page, attracting plenty of praise for the quiet sacrifices from Davis.
Davis was spotted by photographer Stephen Voss, who saw the veteran picking up garbage and sweeping away leaves around the memorial. Davis said he wanted to honor those who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.
“He told me he knew some of the people whose names are on the wall who lost their lives in Vietnam, and I thought it was a really remarkable thing that he chose to do this,” Voss said. “Someone who has very little has chosen to do something that the U.S. government currently can’t do, which is maintain these memorials and keep them in good shape.”
Davis is one of many Americans who have decided to pitch in during the ongoing government shutdown, including many who have gone to national parks overflowing with garbage and human waste to help clean up.
Last week, a national Muslim youth group organized a nationwide day to clean up the parks overflowing with garbage. The group had posted about the event beforehand, prompting many other citizens to join in the clean-up effort. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association held these events in Washington and Philadelphia, where members cleaned overflowing garbage cans outside of Independence Hall.
“Service to our nation and cleanliness are important parts of Islam,” said Dr. Madeel Abdullah, the president of the youth group, in a press release.
“We could not sit idly by as our national parks collected trash. We will lead by example and dispose of this garbage appropriately and invite all Americans to join us in these parks and others across the nation.”
In Washington, D.C., Franklin Davis did not seek out attention for his act of civic kindness, but found plenty of it anyway. The pictures of his clean-up efforts were still finding viral attention online, with some even trying to organize efforts to help pay him back for his service.