Retired Carpenter Honors Alabama Tornado Victims By Building Crosses

The state of Alabama was left devastated last week when a tornado ripped through the state, killing 23 people in Lee County. Though retired carpenter Greg Zanis did not know any of the victims personally, he decided to honor each of them in a beautiful way.

Within 36 hours of the tragedy, Greg had finished 23 handmade crosses painted with the names of the victims. As soon as he received a call about the tornado, he left his wife’s birthday party to begin working on the crosses immediately.

“I want the community to know that first off, they’re a family,” he said. “Lee County is a family.”

Greg is the founder of the nonprofit organization Crosses For Losses, through which he has made and distributed over 26,000 crosses honoring victims of shootings, natural disasters, and other tragedies. When asked why he has devoted his life in retirement to this, Greg had a simple answer.

“I do this because this is exactly what Jesus would do if he were alive today,” he said. “But instead of a donkey, I have a truck.”

Greg built his first cross in 1996 for his wife’s father, who was tragically murdered. This cross was special to Greg, as it was his father-in-law who first taught him carpentry. When he retired in 2014, Greg devoted himself to making his memorial crosses full-time.

Over the years, Greg has made crosses for the victims of such tragedies as the Sandy Hook shooting, Boston Marathon bombing, the California wildfires, the Pulse nightclub shooting, the Mandalay Bay shooting, and the Columbine High School shooting.

“I take every cross and I kiss it after I put the name on it, and I sit there and think about a family,” he said, admitting that the emotional job takes a toll on him.

“I’m really just a big liar – I try to look strong while I’m in these towns even though I know I’m just headed for a bruising,” Greg said.

Greg hopes that his crosses have helped the families of the victims of these tragedies, and has helped to heal America in a small way. Find out more about this in the video below.

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