Widow of Wiccan Soldier to Speak at July 4th Interfaith Religious Rights Rally

July 3, 2006

Source: Las Vegas Sun

Wire Service: AP


On July 3, 2006 the Associated Press reported, "The widow of a Nevada soldier is taking her fight for a veteran's memorial plaque recognizing her husband's Wiccan religion to the nation's capital.

Roberta Stewart will a guest speaker Tuesday at a Fourth of July interfaith religious rights rally in Washington, D.C.

Stewart's husband, Nevada Army National Guard Sgt. Patrick Stewart, died Sept. 25 when his Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. Four others also died.

The Wiccan faith is not among the 38 religions recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The agency so far has refused to grant the Stewart family's request to have the Wiccan pentacle, a five-pointed star surrounded by a circle, placed on Stewart's government-issued plaque at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

Wiccans worship the Earth and believe they must give to the community. Some consider themselves 'white' or good witches, pagans or neo-pagans.

'I should be spending the Fourth of July with my kids,' Roberta Stewart told the Reno Gazette-Journal. 'This is a family that they are torturing. We're a family that needs to lay their fallen hero to rest.'"