On Thursday, Piers Morgan used his "Only in America" segment to tell that tale of a man who's turning trees into tributes.
Joined by carpenter Greg Zanis, Morgan reviews recent American tragedies, and the signs that have come to mark them:
"The familiar sights of the scenes of mass shootings in America ... wooden crosses for the victims from Columbine," he explains. "This week's tragedy in Wisconsin, one man is building these crosses, thousands of them."
Zanis is the man behind the crosses, and he shares details of his mission, and its origin:
"My father-in-law was murdered in 1996 and I found his body and I rarely relate to people who have had a huge loss like that," he explains.
Inspired by his own personal experience, Zanis is motivated to memorialize the dead, in hopes of providing living family members with a way to grieve, and remember their loved ones:
"When you put up a memorial, whether it's a cross or a wreath or a star or crescent, right away you're giving family members a sense of, 'my son was important.'"
On the heels of recent deadly shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin, Zanis emphasizes the importance of providing a safe haven for those impacted by tragedies to express their emotions:
"I put up a lot of very public memorials and a lot of that really - it's for the public to have a place to go to, when a community whether it's in Wisconsin or in Aurora, Colorado, has something this devastating happen to them."
In the aftermath of a mass shooting, often times the attention is placed on those responsible for the killings. Through his work, Zanis hopes to shift the focus:
"We're experiencing this phenomena where immediately, if some guy goes off and takes a gun and kills somebody, everybody knows his name the very next day," he tells the "Piers Morgan Tonight" host. "What I'm trying to do is bring the victims into this and change the stories a little bit. Let's talk about the victims, their lives shattered and then being publicly a victim."
Through his carpentry, and his creations, Zanis feels he's helping to present a bright side for families amidst their darkest hours:
"Placing a memorial in my eyes, this is - this is where the soul leaves to go to heaven. And with that hope in mind, there's not a total loss."
In the words of Morgan, Only in America might one man so selflessly share his soul, and his sweat, to help perfect strangers cope with loss: "It's an extraordinary thing that you do and I want to say on behalf of all of the people who you help and all of the families that you help grieve and commemorate and remember their loved ones, a big thank you."
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