For over 20 years, a carpenter went out of his retirement and has been building crosses for victims of mass tragedies.
Greg Zanis began creating crosses for the dead in 1996 when he found his beloved father-in-law murdered at the bottom of the staircase of his home. That same year, Greg built a three-foot cross for a young boy in his community who lost his life thru gang violence.
He gave the cross to the boy’s grieving mother. This small gesture showed Greg’s compassion and the next 20 years, his hands were kept busy by the non-stop mass shootings all over the country.
His crosses and selfless service gained attention when he erected 13 crosses to honor the victims of Columbine massacre. Greg drove the crosses from his home in Aurora, Illinois to Littleton, Colorado. The crosses helped the nation grieve the loss of young souls.
He also created crosses (some of which are with Star of David for Jewish students) for the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting in Florida.
What does Greg get from all this? Nothing. He appreciated all gifts and donations, but it all goes to the crosses and gas. Greg shares the pain of the loss of parents, families, and friends.
On April 20, Greg was surprised by a memorial erected in his hometown in Aurora to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. The memorial uses the original crosses Greg built 19 years ago.
“Columbine is so hard for me. I call family members every year to let them know that I am keeping the memory of their children alive. It’s hard because I have their children’s crosses in Illinois,” Greg said.
“I just can’t wrap my mind around these 30 crosses. I don’t know why Parkland had to happen. The similarities are daunting to me. I see the same school shooting 19 years later,” he added.
Greg added replicas of the crosses he built for the victims of Parkland shooting. The memorial brought tears to passersby and everyone uttered prayers to the dead.
h/t: Las Vegas Review Journal
This is not the first honor that Greg Zanis received from people who appreciated his work. Las Vegas, Nevada declared November 12 as Greg Zanis Day to honor the Aurora’s “Cross Guy”.
Despite being exhausted, it seems that mass tragedies in the United States have no end. Recently, a mass shooter opened fire in Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee.
His only wish is for him to hang up his hammer that would mean that the unfortunate tragedies clearly have stopped. However, for now, Greg will continue to honor and mourn for the victims.