Local Victims of Texas Church Massacre Remembered
Candlelight Vigil Honors Robert and Shani Corrigan
By Dianne Alward-Biery
HARRISON – Peoples from Clare County and beyond gathered Monday evening at Veterans Freedom Park in Harrison to honor the memory of the late Robert and Shani Corrigan of Harrison who had lost their lives Sunday morning in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Support for their surviving family came in the form of a candlelight vigil, words of remembrance and respect.
The park was a fitting locale for the vigil, as Robert Corrigan was himself a retiree of the U.S. Air Force, and the couple has two sons currently serving on active duty in the Air Force.
Renee Haley, Clare County Veterans Services Director, told the gathering that the Corrigans were high school sweethearts, and both were 1985 graduates of Harrison High School. Haley also noted that Robert Corrigan had set a track record for running that held for 25 years. Haley declared that the couple were indeed hometown heroes. Following that hometown hero thought, she read a prepared comment provided by Harrison Community Schools.
Harrison Community Schools is deeply sorry to learn of the loss of former students Robert and Shani Corrigan, Class of 1985, in the Texas shooting yesterday morning. This is truly another horrific tragedy in our country. On behalf of the school community, I wish to send my condolences to their family. My thoughts and prayers go out to their children and the extended family. -- Richard Foote, Superintendent of the Harrison Community Schools.
Haley also read the traditional poem of Chief Master Sergeants, which was included in the program at the 2015 retirement ceremony for Chief Master Sergeant Robert M. Corrigan. Its words were both purpose driven, and sadly haunting in light of the act which took place in Texas. The verse is restated here:
“My Last Parade
Let the bugler blow/ Let the march be played: With a forming of the troops/ For my last parade. The years of wars and the years of waiting/ Obedience to orders, unhesitating/ Years in the States and the years overseas/ All woven in a web of memories/ A lifetime of service passed in review/ As many good friends and exotic places, too/ In the waning sunlight begin to face/ With the martial music of my last parade./ My last salute to the service and base/ Now someone else will take my place/ To the sharp young soldiers marching away/ I gladly pass the orders of the day/ Though uncertain of what my future may hold/ Still, if needed – before I grow too old – I’ll keep my saber sharp, my powder dry/ Lest I be recalled to duty by and by./ So let the bugle blow/ Fire the evening gun/ Slowly lower the colors/ My retirement has begun.” – Author Unknown
That program also contains three pages describing his many accomplishments and honors received in educational and professional pursuits.
At the vigil, people had a chance to come forward and relate any special memory they might have of Shani and/or Robert Corrigan. One person told of an occasion when Robert Corrigan came running into school apologizing for being a few minutes late – after running 15 minutes just to get there.
The large crowd which assembled for the vigil lit and held their candles high in honor of the Corrigans, and spontaneous singing arose from the crowd: “Amazing Grace” and “God Bless America” as well as the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul.”
Also in attendance were representatives of media outlets, including seven videographers, along with radio and print journalists. Family members took some time with the media to ensure their lost loved ones were remembered well. They also spoke of the high presence of religion in their lives.
Robert Corrigan’s mother is Jean Ann Corrigan, who still resides in Harrison. She said was confident that the two were in a place of peace.
“He was beautiful, and he was full of happiness,” she said. “God is in control, and I know my son and daughter-in-law are in the arms of Jesus. I know that.”
Bob Summers, uncle of Robert Corrigan, said the tragedy is something no one expects, but that the family is trying deal with it and get through it.