Does That Star Spangled Banner Yet Wave?

A tearful Julie Wotasik receives the battle flag from Parris honoring her deceased son

Published in 2005 Southern California Rising Stars — September 2005

R. Rex Parris, personal injury attorney, namesake of the R. Rex Parris Law Firm and allaround good guy, was just there to receive an award. He and his wife were at a Lancaster awards dinner in April in honor of local boy scouts and veterans of the war in Iraq. Parris himself was to be recognized as the Distinguished Citizen of the Year. But then there was a benefit auction for an American flag that had seen action in Iraq. And Parris 
wife had an idea.
 
“My wife whispered to me that I should buy the flag” and give it to a family in attendance whose son had died while training in the armed forces, Parris says. He took the suggestion to heart and began bidding on the battle flag, which was ridden with bullet holes after flying over Baghdad and Fallujah. “This was a flag Americans died under," Parris says.
 
This Old Glory didn’t come easy. “One of my closest friends — who lives just across the street — was bidding against me,” among others, Parris says. In the end, Parris could not be deterred and won the flag after placing a winning bid of $17,000, which was donated to the Boy Scouts.
 
He immediately gave the flag to Julie Wotasik and her family, whose son Justin died in 1998 while training as a pararescue jumper for the Air Force. “When I gave it to them, the whole family was in tears,” he says.
 
“We’re very proud of this community and committed to this community, and we try to give back,” Parris, who recently had a high school named after him, says. “This was one of those must-win situations.”

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