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Since 70s, hes made wooden crosses for lives lost – now 49 more

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AВ former NashvillianВ isВ fightingВ hate with love by making individual memorials for all 49 victims of lastВ weekend’s shooting in Orlando, Fla.

unfinished decorative wood frames


GregВ Zanis, 65, of Chicago, has made 49 white crosses, one for each of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting Sunday morning. Each cross bears a victim’s name.

wooden hearts bulk


“I’m doing this for their families,” Zanis said during a stop in Nashville. “This individualizes it.”

art minds wood frames


Zanis has been making memorial crosses since the 1970sВ when a neighbor asked him to make one for herВ son. A carpenter by trade, Zanis returned in an hour with a cross.В Based onВ his own estimation, Zanis has made over 12,000 memorials since then.

heart shaped wood cutouts


Zanis stopped in NashvilleВ to WednesdayВ visit his hometown before setting up his homemade memorial in the middle of the night inВ Orlando. He plans on setting up all 49 crosses by himself late at night, then slip out of town before the sun comes up. The carpenter does not have a site planned yet, but has a few places in mind.

wooden heart


HeВ handmadeВ all the crossesВ in his garage workshop. Each cross В is about 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide and has a victim’s name andВ a large red wooden heart. All the lumber is donated.В The Orlando projectВ is the biggest memorial he has everВ made.

“When you see all these lined up, it will be like ‘Oh my God’ and they will see the severity of what happened,” Zanis said.

Zanis has crisscrossed the country through the years, going to Aurora,В Colo., after the movie theater shooting in 2012. In 2013, he went to Boston after the marathon bombing. Fifteen years ago he was in Columbine, Colo. Zanis saidВ he gets satisfaction from showing people how to love.

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