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More than 21,000 white crosses built for gun violence victims

NBC's Lester Holt interviews Greg Zanis, who travels the country to show support for communities coping with tragedy.

In our rituals of public sorrow, Greg Zanis’ handcrafted white crosses and stars of David crescent moons are ubiquitous. From a high school in Columbine to a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and many miles in between, America has come to recognize “Crosses for Losses.”

This week, Zanis made the trip to El Paso, Texas. He placed 22 crosses across from the local Walmart, where a 21-year-old gunman allegedly opened fire on shoppers on Saturday.

“I number every one,” he told NBC’s Lester Holt. “I’ve built 26,799 to date.”

Zanis added that 21,000 of those crosses have been for shooting victims, including two Chicago mothers who were killed in the neighborhood they were trying to protect last week. He’s also delivered crosses to Paradise, California, after last year’s fires, and Alabama, after a deadly tornado in March.

Unfortunately, Zanis’ work is never done. Next, he drives on to Dayton, Ohio, where he will place nine more crosses for the victims of a shooting that occurred 13 hours after the attack in El Paso.