By Mike Wilcox
I was going to write this week about how we should all show appreciation to veterans on Veterans Day. Then Sunday rolled in with the mass shooting that killed 26 and injured another 20 worshipping in a Texas church.
This hit me hard — maybe because it’s another mass murder we have witnessed in this great country over the last year, or because a husband and wife who shared the same city as I did were two of those 26 victims.
I felt distraught that I couldn’t attend the candlelight vigil held in Harrison, Monday. The event saw hundreds grieve the loss of Robert and Shani Corrigan, who grew up in the Northern Michigan town and then made their way to Texas. My reporter at the vigil said it was so emotional she had difficulty wiping tears from her face and keeping her camera steady.
Robert was an Air Force veteran. He and Shani have two sons in the military. They were grieving the death of a third son who committed suicide recently. By all accounts Robert was an excellent airman — one we would be proud of honoring on Veterans Day.
Instead, this year, we honor him posthumously. He and his wife were active members of the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church, where he often played his guitar for parishioners. Growing up in Harrison, he was known as a jovial guy who would give the shirt off his back to help someone.
It’s beyond comprehension that this small town would be the scene of Texas’s most horrific killing spree. I suppose if it could happen there, it could happen anywhere I have newspapers. Saugatuck and LaFayette, Ala., have populations similar to Sutherland Springs.
I fear with the upshot of mass murders, my wife or son could be in danger. I lament nightly as to what is happening to our country. Just over a month ago we had the mass killing in Las Vegas. Now this. When will it stop?
And how in the world was this crackpot able to purchase not one, but two guns? He was court martialed, sentenced to prison and a known wife, child and animal abuser.
Blame the Air Force for not placing him on the national criminal background check registry, which is used to determine whether a person can purchase a gun or not. It was a clerical error, so they say, but there are too many clerical errors these days.
When Veteran’s Day rolls around this Saturday, I ask you to join me for a moment of silence for Robert, Shani and all the people who attended Sutherland Springs Baptist Church. They will need our prayers and positive thoughts as they try to rebuild their lives.
And while praying for the Church, let’s not forget all the veterans who have sacrificed their lives for us. Without their willingness to fight for freedom and America, we would not have the civil liberties we have grown so accustomed to.
We all have family or friends who have served in the military. Nov. 11 is their special day. Let’s take time to offer our thanks and maybe even sit down and listen to a story or two.