Honoring Pierce in Washington DC

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.

Reality

We’ve been able to keep it together for a couple of days.

I guess just really busying ourselves trying not to let reality set in. Perhaps pretending it isn’t true. But the fact is you are not here and will never be here. Our hearts just cannot except it.

How do your father and I get over this terrible ache? We listen for you. We pick up the phone to call or text you. All your things left as if you are coming back. So many things left to do and say. We will never hear your voice or see your smile or hear your wonderful laugh.

Avery and Connor have lost their baby brother, the uncle to their future children, Connors best man on his wedding day. They’ve lost the brother who would be beside them through all the joys and heartaches. The brother who would be beside them to bury, mourn and remember us. The way it should be. It should not be you before us.

We stare at your photos and know there will be no more. No more birthdays, holidays, vacations. No more new memories or adventures. All our family photos will be without you.

We just never dreamed we would have to grow old without you.

*Notification*Look Around…Check Out Reality

Pierce Kennedy Corcoran, born August 4th, 1996 was a son, grandson, baby brother and friend to so many.

It’s hard to sum Pierce up in a post like this. He was funny, sweet, athletic–so many things. He was quiet, but he would really get your attention when he spoke up unexpectedly. He had a good sense of humor and never took anything too seriously. He would often let me know that I was taking things too seriously; as the oldest sister, I do have the tendency to do that.

In fact, on the night of Christmas Eve, right before this picture was taken, Pierce did something funny. He came up to me, pointed at my shirt and said,”Hey, you’ve got some coffee right there.”

Even though I hadn’t touched coffee at all that night, I looked and fell for it. And he got me, laughing and getting my nose.

“PIERCE!” I’d shouted, shoving him a little bit. And he had just laughed, good naturedly. Pierce could be a prankster. He and my brother Connor used to do this thing where they would chase my dad up the stairs; my dad has this thing with being chased and they knew that.

It was always so funny to see dad inch towards the stairs, looking over his shoulder, and then see Pierce and Connor launch themselves off of the couch and run after him, screaming and pursuing him up the stairs.

I will never get to see that again. I will never get to hear the laughter of both my brothers, together, mingling with my dad’s laughing.

I will never get to just hang out with Pierce, doing whatever, again.

I remember one day in particular, back in 2017–we made a day of it and just hung out together. We drove around and went to the Knoxville Art Museum downtown, taking funny pictures of ourselves with the art before walking down to Knoxville Chocolate Company and getting some chocolate, which we took up in the Sunsphere. Pierce had also shown me where “The Bluffs” were, a little known trail that goes to a cliff that overlooks all of downtown Knoxville. We had gone to KBrew and sampled some coffee. We had just had fun. I will miss those times of just hanging out with Pierce; we had all gotten very busy with work and just life in general.

What I loved about Pierce though..was that, no matter how busy he was, he had time to talk to me. He would just listen. And whenever I was out walking in my neighborhood and he happened to be driving by, he would honk at me and I would call him, asking where he was going. On Saturday, December 29th, Pierce held down on his horn as he drove by my husband Tim and I on our walk and we waved back. I remember telling my husband that I should call Pierce..but for whatever reason, that day, I didn’t. I hate that I didn’t call him and tell him I love him.

I love this picture. It’s one of my favorites. We were all in Savannah, Georgia for a cousin’s wedding and I had been telling Pierce nonstop about this ice cream place called Leopold’s. “It’s one of the top five ice cream parlors in the world,” I’d stressed to him.

Pierce, normally not one to stray from his healthy routines, insisted that we had to go so he could try it too. We waited in a long line and picked out our flavors. Pierce even put up with my Instagram obsessed behavior of documenting even the simplest of things, like an ice cream cone. That behavior seems silly to me now.

I miss my brother’s smile. In our phone obsessed culture, we often take pictures of things and people and we forget to just really look at them and enjoy them. We try so hard to document a life that looks “perfect” and forget to enjoy all of life’s imperfections and just be happy. I felt so much guilt over this in the days after Pierce’s passing. While I had been trying so hard to cultivate a “picture perfect” life, I had forgotten to enjoy what was right in front of me: my family and the people I love.

One of my favorite pictures from Pierce’s Instagram is this one. It simply says: *Notification* Look around…check out reality.

I wanted to share this post because it is close to my heart. Social media is not everything. Appreciate what you have. Look up from your phones and at the ones you love. You will find that, one day, they will be gone. While it is good to take pictures and have fun…stop and think about why you’re doing it.

Are you doing it to impress other people?

Or are you doing it because you want to capture a memory that’s dear to you?

When I look back at my Instagram from the last year or so, all I feel is sadness and emptiness. It’s just a lot of pictures of me, doing things that I thought were interesting. It doesn’t show the people I love. It doesn’t show a reality, it shows small snippets and moments from my day, the ones I thought might make me seem the most “perfect”.

Check out reality. Love on your family around you. Don’t care what other people think and don’t set out to impress them.

This was very hard for me to write, but I felt like it might help someone else. Stay present and don’t get worked up about the unimportant things in this life.

A Brother’s Love❤️

The following is a message from my other brother, Connor Corcoran.❤️ The bond that, Connor, Pierce and I had will never be broken. Thank you so much for your continued prayers and sweet comments.

A lot of people don’t know what it’s like to grow up with a younger brother. To give you a firsthand account, it’s a trial. Brotherhood is a friendship that’s full of challenges, as well as rewards. As an older brother, you get to watch a younger version of yourself grow and make the same mistakes you did, as well as learn from the mistakes you were still making. They crave your attention and approval, and you’ll never deserve it or understand it.

I was blessed to have a brother like Pierce. Through all the challenges between each other, and against the world, we were always there to prepare each other for anything and create better versions of ourselves. From the day he was born, I had a friend and a rival that nothing could have ever prepared me for.

Younger brothers have a knack for getting under your skin, because nobody could ever know you better, or want to be closer to you for no reason at all. Many people learn about unconditional love from their parents, but I’ll always accredit what I’ve learned about unconditional love to Pierce. I wasn’t the best brother growing up, and brothers fight. At least that’s how many people would see it, but in actuality, brothers challenge each other’s experience, passion, skill, talent and character in many ways, and as two competitive young boys, neither of us were very gracious losers. More often than not, I was the one being the sore loser, and taking it out on him.

I was just an ignorant, competitive young kid that couldn’t understand why he had such a fascination with everything I was interested in, and until many years later, it never occurred to me that he was always trying to impress me and get me to see him for the man he was so quickly becoming. And let me say that Pierce became one hell of a young man. Through all the challenges I issued him as an older brother, Pierce became the man he wanted to be despite my challenges and through them, and still considered me an equal even though he surpassed me in so many ways years ago. I was blessed to have a brother like Pierce.

He was kind, generous, virtuous, faithful, and fun loving. More so than anyone I know. As much as he looked up to me, I look up to him now. I’m proud to say he was my brother.

-Connor Daniel Corcoran

Justice For Pierce Corcoran

Pierce was only 2-3 years old in this picture; it was taken in St. Pete, Florida on a family vacation. This is how I will always remember him: as my innocent baby brother.❤️

The following is a eulogy that I wrote and read aloud at Pierce’s funeral. It was something I never wanted to nor ever thought I would be writing.- Avery(Pierce’s only and oldest sister)

“This is my life. I will create my own successes and my own failures. I have worth in my soul and my actions still matter.”-Pierce Kennedy Corcoran

These are some of the words I found scrawled in an unassuming, gray notebook on the dash of my baby brother’s car, riddled with shards of glass. My. Actions. Still. Matter.

In a world that so rarely makes sense, My. Actions. Still. Matter.

I remember when Pierce first arrived into our lives, ushering in the month of August and bestowing upon my brother Connor and I some Hunchback of Notre Dame figurines, which we both knew were really from our parents to get us adjusted to having a new family member around. Even so, it worked.

Avery, Connor and Pierce. When it came to matters of diplomacy, in the early days, we often settled arguments the way three siblings usually do: two against one. We had our spats, over toys and crayons, but at the end of the day, we loved each other. Good things come in threes.

Pierce was, without a doubt, the jock in our family. Every type of sport you could think of, he tried and excelled at it. He was always up for trying new things and had a great sense of humor. He towered above the rest of us at over 6 feet tall, but a part of me will always see him as my youngest brother, with a shock of blonde hair, running around at our local pool, wearing a bubble to help him swim and his trademark glasses.

Pierce was also a hard worker, working fulltime, making steps towards earning a personal trainer certification, all while balancing out a very active social life. If you were Pierce’s friend, you could count yourself as lucky. He loved fiercely, always was encouraging, and made a point to keep up with you, no matter how busy he was.

Pierce was generous with his money, but most importantly, his TIME and his LOVE. I remember calling him sometimes and even if he was busy, he would just listen to me, even if I was complaining about things that seem ridiculous now.

Pierce was pursuing homeownership. We had often schemed about how we could find him a house on our street since Connor and I are neighbors. We had big plans for a “Corcoran Development” right around the corner from our childhood home.

In the little notebook we found in what was left of my baby brother’s car, he spoke of dreams. Of plans. Of hopes and thoughts. In his 22 years here on earth, he reached so many goals and had so many accomplishments, but I think one of his biggest accomplishments was the love he gave and received.

In confusing times like this, it is easy to think that nothing matters. To respond with hatred instead of love. What keeps me going is knowing that I will see Pierce’s familiar smile again, not only peeking at me out of old home movies, but in heaven, a place where there is no suffering and no loneliness.

All I ask is that everyone here try their best to be PRESENT.

It is so easy to get swooped up in unimportant things. Work, social media, grudges and more. Even when things seem hopeless, YOUR. ACTIONS. STILL. MATTER.

We love you, Pierce. Whenever I am asked how many brothers I have, I will say two. One of them just happens to be in heaven and I will see him again someday.

Pierce Corcoran,22,Killed by Illegal Immigrant

Pierce Kennedy Corcoran(August 4th, 1996-December 29th, 2018)was killed in a head on car crash on Chapman Highway in Knoxville, TN. The other driver in question, Franco Cambrany Francisco Eduardo, is being detained by ICE on charges of illegal immigration, failure to have a driver’s license and failure to purchase car insurance.

The following is a message from Pierce’s mother, Wendy Corcoran:

A Mother’s Message:

Pierce Corcoran was only 22 years old when he was killed by an illegal immigrant in a car crash on December 29th, 2018.

Pierce Corcoran, born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. A responsible, hardworking and loving son, brother and grandson. Pierce’s life is to be remembered and celebrated for his relationship with his Heavenly Father, his love for others, and his determination to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Was he perfect? No, but he was taught to care about others and his impact on them. He was taught and practiced personal responsibility throughout his life. He was compassionate towards others, others whom might look differently than he or whom might speak differently than he.

As we mourn our precious son and try to honor his memory, we are also faced with the fact that there is much discussion surrounding his tragic death.

For us, there are two issues: safety and responsibility. As it pertains to safety, we are not the first, nor will we be the last to lose a loved one on a road known to many as dangerous. This is something we feel must be addressed. As it pertains to responsibility, we as parents taught all three of our children to be responsible for their actions. We discussed with them their need to maintain their vehicles and always have their license, registration and insurance up to date.

Everyone is well aware that the 44 year old man involved in our 22 year old’s death did not practice this same responsibility and has not done so for 14 years.

It’s not about where this man came from–it’s the fact that he takes no personal responsibility for his actions. Not only in the financial sense, but no responsibility at all. He will most likely face very little jail time when all is said and done. He believes he should remain in our country illegally. Not only that, but we provide his counsel to fight for his rights.

We are all aware, as a family, that nothing will bring Pierce back, but don’t tell me my son, who lived in this country and followed its rules, doesn’t deserve better. For God’s sake, out of respect for the men and women who fought and fight to make this country such a desirable place to live, DO THE RIGHT THING and come here legally and become a responsible citizen.