SALT LAKE CITY — On the steps of the state Capitol, 11-year-old Nick Parr wore his dad’s military jacket and waved the flag he and his mom were given when his father was killed in Iraq.
His mother, Shannah Parr, led a rally Wednesday to tell Washington it needs to step up and fix the country’s problems.
"It’s time that we show our elected officials they are elected to do a job, and we need to call them out and make sure that they are doing the job we elected them to do, not just temporarily fixing things for the moment,” Parr said. “Fix it now. Pass the budget. Get our country back to the great nation that we are, that we’re supposed to be.”
Parr’s original goal was to protest the fact that veterans and surviving family members would have to go without pay if government leaders couldn’t compromise to avoid a financial default and end the partial government shutdown.
Proposed compromises were being discussed in Washington D.C. while the protest proceeded Wednesday afternoon and evening. While it looks like she and her son will get their benefit checks in November after all, Parr says it’s far from over.
“They’re coming up with a temporary resolution to fund our government and keep it going and making sure that we get paid, but it’s what they always do,” Parr said. “They give us an extension, and an extension is not a budget.”
About a dozen supporters showed up at the beginning of the rally, including Parr’s grandfather, Patrick Vialpando, who served in Korea and Vietnam.
“How many times a year do we have to worry that they’re not going to take care of us?” Parr said. “It’s unacceptable and embarrassing.”
Parr is entitled to her husband’s veteran pay, and Nick receives his father’s retirement pay, which he has been paying taxes on since he was 4.
“My husband and other fallen heroes held up their end of the bargain, and it’s time that our government does, too,” she said.
Parr’s husband, Sgt. Brandon Parr, was killed on March 3, 2007, when an IED hit his convoy in Baghdad. He was serving his second tour in Iraq and had just re-enlisted.
“And if he was here today, he’d have many more (tours) under his belt,” she said. “My husband saw and watched our country be attacked (on 9/11) and he didn’t want it to come here. He is a patriot and he wanted to defend our nation, defend our country, and so that’s why he joined and loved his service.”
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company