LAS VEGAS, NV – Greek-American Greg Zanis drove, in early October, nearly 2,000 miles from the Chicago area to install crosses on a patch of grass near the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, not far from the site of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival where 58 people were killed on Sunday, October 1.
A month later, on November 12, Faith and government leaders paid tribute to Aurora, Illinois’ own Greg Zanis Sunday, declaring it “Greg Zanis Day”, according to WGN9. “It’s fitting that a carpenter is who has brought us together,” said Rev. Dan Haas, A Future and a Hope Foundation. “What it did is give me, personally, was a moment to start to grieve.”
Zanis has become well-known for erecting more than 20,000 of the markers over the past two decades, including after the Columbine and Sandy Hook school shootings and the massacre at an Orlando nightclub.
Zanis, a 66-year-old retired carpenter, made his first cross 20 years ago when his father-in-law was killed.
“That just changed my life,” Zanis said. “My first cross was for somebody that I loved. And when I put up these crosses here, I always think of my personal loss here too. Always.”
Zanis was born in Spokane, Washington, in 1950 to a Greek Orthodox priest and a Greek immigrant seamstress. His middle name–Steven–is Stavros in Greek, which, he proudly points out, means “cross,” according to the Chicago Reader.
After they are removed from the Vegas Strip, officials said the crosses will be preserved for future generations in the Clark County Museum, WGN9 says.