Top Veteran Official Joins Wiccan Headstone Fray

May 27, 2006

Source: CBS News

Wire Service: AP

On May 27, 2006 the Associated Press reported, "Over the years, families have used religious symbols such as the Jewish Star of David, the Christian cross and the Islamic crescent and star to honor their loved ones on headstones and markers. For Sgt. Patrick Stewart's family, the symbol of choice was also from his religion: the Wiccan pentacle.

But of all the symbols and faiths recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Wicca and its emblem - a circle around a five-pointed star -are not among them.

The department is reviewing a request to include the symbol, but when a decision will come is unclear.

That has angered many. The state's top veterans official, Tim Tetz, said he was 'diligently pursuing' the matter with Gov. Kenny Guinn, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev.

'Sergeant Stewart and his family deserve recognition for their contributions to our country,' said Tetz, executive director of the Nevada Office of Veterans Services.

'It's unfortunate the process is taking so long, but I am certain Sgt. Patrick will ultimately receive his marker with the Wiccan symbol,' he said Thursday... The Veterans Affairs' National Cemetery Administration allows only approved emblems of religious beliefs on government headstones.

Over the years, it has approved more than 30, including symbols for the Tenrikyo Church, United Moravian Church and Sikhs. There is also one for atheists.

Stewart's widow said she's hopeful she will receive permission for the Wiccan pentacle."