After creating more than 27,000 crosses for those who lost their lives due to gun violence, Greg Zanis is moving on. The Aurora, Illinois native now finds himself sorting through thank you letters from victim’s families and those who survived a horrific ordeal.
Thank You Letters
“I literally have hundreds of these,” said Zanis. “It’s my paycheck. We have one thing we look forward to and that’s going out to the mail today.”
A flag in his home with “United We Are Strong” written in the middle lists some of the cities he’s placed his crosses in.
“El Paso, Virginia Beach was a shooting last year, Aurora, Illinois my hometown,” said Zanis.
Crosses Too Close To Home
On February 15, 2019 the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora was the site of a mass shooting. The incident injured five officers, and took five lives.
“I just didn’t see that coming,” said Zanis. “I just felt so hurt happening in my own town.”
Zanis, like he’s done for so many other communities, created crosses for the victims. He made ten in total: five for the lives that were lost, and five for the five officers who were injured.
The City of Aurora is honoring the five lives who were lost by giving them a permanent home in their Historical Society center. Still, these crosses were too close to home for Zanis.
“I go to the other cities and I come back comfortable in my own town. It was really the day I decided to retire from the ministry,” said Zanis.
What’s Next For Zanis?
Zanis’ “Crosses for Losses” mission will now be continued by Lutheran Church Charities of Northbrook.
With over 20 years of creating crosses all over the country, Zanis, who does it all for free, said at one point he was more than $250,000 in debt.
“As of this morning I’m $8,500 in debt so I’ve been whittling that down slowly. A few months before that I was really $19,000 in debt,” said Zanis.
But building is in this carpenter’s bones. Once out of debt he hopes to restore his 1927 Cadillac.
“I’m dying to do something,” said Zanis. “God gave everybody everything that he gave to everyone else. But one thing he didn’t give Greg Zanis is a lazy bone.”
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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