On the morning of Tuesday, January 15th, we stood outside The Capitol Building in Washington DC. It was cold and snow was still on the ground. To say that it was surreal to be in our nation’s capital, surrounded by Congress men and women, talking about the issues and sharing Pierce’s story, barely two weeks after his passing, is an understatement.
Several people have asked me to post the written version of what I said in the Capital Hill Triangle that day. I wrote this Sunday night before we left for Washington, into the early hours of Monday morning.
Today, I stand before you…wearing black. I am in mourning, not only for the death of my 22 year old brother, Pierce Kennedy Corcoran, but for the sorry state of affairs in which our country finds itself in today.
Our government has been shut down for 25 days, beating all previous records. I cannot help but find myself thinking in numbers. 25 is an age my brother will never see. 14 is the amount of years the illegal alien, who swerved into oncoming traffic, killing my brother, has spent living illegally in our country.
This is my baby brother, Pierce. He is not “manufactured”, fabricated or made up. My family loved him so much. All of the angel families you see here today are here to speak up. We have now become the voices for fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. We speak for those who can no longer speak for themselves.
If my brother was here today, he would tell you that, despite being from Tennessee, he loved the Texas Longhorns. He would tell you that he was a sports fanatic. Pierce was always humble and he wouldn’t tell you this, but he was a hard worker, working 40+ hours a week, on top of working towards a personal trainer certification and saving up for a house and a future. His girlfriend, Jade, was a part of that future, and he had bought her a ring.
If Pierce was here today, he would also tell you that our parents instilled certain values in their three children. One of those values is personal responsibility. Francisco Eduardo Franco Cambrany did not exhibit personal responsibility on the night of December 29th, when he crashed head on into Pierce’s car, nor did he exemplify it when he crossed our country’s border 14 years ago. He was in our country, illegally, driving a car without a license or insurance.
Whereas most people would be receiving condolences at the loss of a loved one, my family has also had to deal with comments like the following: “Anyone could have been driving the other car that killed Pierce. He could have just as easily been killed by an American citizen.”
And yet, he wasn’t.
Those aren’t just my facts, those are the facts. You don’t have to like them. I certainly don’t.
While everyone else is content to live in hypotheticals or file their nails in indifference, my family is living in reality and dealing with those facts every day.
Our nation is in crisis. We have received countless messages from families just like ours who have lost loved ones to car crashes, criminal homicides and other violent crimes, at the hands of undocumented people. Sadly, in most cases, time is not served, they are repeat offenders, or they slip away into the shadows, never apprehended by law enforcement or ICE.
A crisis is defined as a time of intense difficulty, but it is also defined as a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.
How can it be denied that we are in a crisis?
Here, in America, we find ourselves at a crossroads, where compromise is sorely needed from both sides. The clock is ticking and the huddled masses within our own borders need and deserve answers. Abraham Lincoln once famously said, “A house divided cannot stand.”
We, the American people, need protection. On that point, we cannot compromise. I want to leave you with these words: My actions still matter.
These are the words I found in a journal on the dash of my baby brother’s crumpled, destroyed car, the pages riddled with shards of glass.
My actions still matter.
To the members of Congress and our President, I want to say your actions still matter. This is not an issue of race, this is an issue of right and wrong.
After sharing Pierce’s story, we got to speak to so many members of Congress who had come down, just to listen to us and other angel families speak. Louie Gohmert, from Texas. Mo Brooks, from Alabama. Tim Burchett, our own representative from Knoxville and so many more.
We also got to meet with Marsha Blackburn, a representative for the state of Tennessee. We are so glad that so many took the time to listen to us and our concerns. Our biggest concern is, obviously, about the border and the overall safety of this country, but we also have other concerns that reside more on the local level, like fixing Chapman Highway, a road that has seen too many fatalities.
We are just getting started. I think Pierce is still watching over us as we tackle some of these things.
This picture is from a trip we took to DC in the summer of August 2001, right before 9/11. I am so glad we got to go as a family…Connor and Pierce and I enjoyed going to a lot of museums and meeting then Congressman, Jimmy Duncan.
What’s ironic about that trip is that we had visited the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Museum. On the list of “Top 10 Most Wanted” was a man named Osama Bin Ladin, whom we had never heard of. Just a month later, everyone in our country would know his name.
Thinking back on that, I can see that we have made major advancements to our personal safety and security in our country since 2001, but still more needs to be done.
I hope that Congress can come together with our president to make real changes. There is so much at stake with this shutdown: paychecks, of course, but also, people’s lives.