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City remembers mass killing victims

AURORA, Ill. –  This city is not a war zone. It’s a quiet suburb about 40 miles southwest of Chicago. But on Saturday, the dead will be remembered here just as surely as any battleground. 

“We’re going to have a hard time today,” said longtime resident Greg Zanis, wiping away tears. “It’s the America I live in today. It’s a battlefield.”

Saturday is when Aurora remembers the workplace shooting that left five dead a year ago, with a special remembrance, speeches and flags at half mast. But for Zanis, it’s a journey of remorse that began back in 1996, the year his father-in-law and a 6-year-old boy were both fatally shot in Aurora.

Since then, Zanis has constructed and delivered nearly 27,000 wooden crosses and other symbols of worship to the sites of mass killings nationwide.

Zanis, a Greek Orthodox man, has borne witness to the grief of thousands of families. A flag bearing the names of each of the hundreds of sites hangs in his office: Columbine. Newtown. San Bernardino. Pittsburgh. Parkland. Las Vegas. Thousand Oaks. Dayton. El Paso. Even Aurora, Colorado.

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