Widow of Wiccan Vet Holds Alternative Memorial Service

May 29, 2006

Source: Daily Bulletin


On May 29, 2006 the Daily Bulletin reported, "A war widow who wants the government to put a Wiccan religious symbol on her husband's memorial plaque held an alternative service Monday as a protest, hours before an official Memorial Day ceremony nearby.

'This is discrimination against our religion,' Roberta Stewart said at the gathering of about 200 at a park east of Fernley for her late husband, Sgt. Patrick Stewart. 'I ask you to help us remember that all freedoms are worth fighting for.'

A few hours later and a few miles away in this pastoral community east of Reno, official Memorial Day ceremonies were conducted at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

The space reserved for a plaque in Stewart's name on a wall at the cemetery remains blank.

The Department of Veterans Affairs 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 the government-issued plaque.

Stewart, 34, was killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 25 when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his helicopter. Four others also died. Stewart was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart."