NEW YORK – Greek-American Greg Zanis has placed about 27,000 crosses to commemorate the victims of mass shootings in the United States, according to a report on Spectrum News, which noted that once he heard the news of the El Paso shooting, Zanis drove 22 hours from Chicago to El Paso with a friend. After placing the crosses as a memorial to the victims, their next stop would be Dayton.
“We woke up yesterday morning to hear this again. Makes you not even want to get up from bed in the morning,” Zanis told Spectrum News.
Zanis, is the founder of Crosses for Losses, and writes on the organization’s website, “My name is Greg Zanis. I am a carpenter by trade. Since 1997, I’ve constructed and placed over 20,000 white wooden crosses and other memorials for the public and the families of crime victims as well as accident victims.”
In early October of 2017, he drove 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 October 1. Zanis also posted crosses after the Columbine and Sandy Hook school shootings and the massacre at an Orlando nightclub.
The retired carpenter, made his first cross 20 years ago when his father-in-law was killed, WGN9 reported. “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 Greek immigrant seamstress mom. His middle name, Steven, is Stavros in Greek, which he proudly points out, means “cross,” according to the Chicago Reader.
He grew up in Nashville and his parents spoke Greek at home. His father was one of the founders of St. Athanasios Church in Aurora, IL, the Chicago Reader reported.
Referring to the Columbine shooting, Zanis told KENS5 news, “We just had a 20-year anniversary, and it’s just not stopping,” adding that “It’s a dreadful thing I’m doing here; it’s not like I go home and look at your papers anymore.”