A retired Illinois carpenter who drove to Las Vegas with a haul of handmade crosses he created to honor the 58 victims of last year’s Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting is at it again.
The memorial became a place of healing for many who placed notes, stuffed animals and other keepsakes near the crosses, which also bore photos of the slain along with the hearts that Zanis attached to each.
Dubbed the “Crosses For Losses,” Zanis told the Las Vegas Review-Journal after arriving to Sin City on Friday that he’s been speaking to families of the victims who’ve long dreaded this somber anniversary.
“They’ve gone through birthdays without their loved one,” he said. “They’ve gone through every holiday without their loved one.”
Zanis hopes the return of his memorial will stand as a message of hope and remembrance in contrast to all that pain.
It’s a pain Zanis has learned about firsthand from those hit hardest, not just by last year’s Vegas shooting but by mass murders like it stretching back years.
Last year, Zanis drove more than 1,000 miles to Orlando to place 49 crosses to pay tribute to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
He also reportedly arrived with crosses after the Columbine High School shooting and the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.
The pain has hit Zanis personally, too.
The idea to build crosses came after Zanis found his father-in-law dead in 1996 of a gunshot wound to the head. He reportedly built a cross to help cope with his own grief.
Last year’s crosses were deemed a safety hazard as pedestrians swarmed, unprotected, beside a busy roadway to pay their respects.
They were removed and are now on display at the Clark County Government Center.
This year, Zanis said he’ll be standing by at the memorial on Tuesday, when he’s welcoming mourners to come collect the cross bearing their loved one’s name.