65-year-old Greg Zanis created a memorial for the 49 victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre that is pulling at the heartstrings of America. After hand-crafting 49 white crosses, Zanis drove 1,200 miles from his home in Illinois to Orlando to place them in the city.
Each cross has a huge red heart and one of the victim’s names, as well as markers at the base of each cross where others can share their notes of support and love. Janis says there is one simple message he wants to convey with his project.
“My message today is love your brother, love your neighbor,” he told NBC Miami, “Don’t judge them.”
Zanis began his project after church on June 19, and used donated lumber to build each of the crosses. For now, the crosses sit outside the Orlando Health Medical Center, but Zanis plans to later donate them to the victims’ families.
His kind act has drawn national attention, and Florida governor Rick Scott even thanked him for the kind gift.
Although this project is Zanis’ biggest so far, it is far from his first. He built similar tributes for those who died in the Aurora, CO, movie theater shooting and the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012. Zanis’ own father-in-law passed away from a gunshot wound, which he uses as inspiration to spread his message against violence.