The Goddess brings us news that National Guard Sgt. Patrick Stewart’s Northern Nevada Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery memorial is blank. Stewart died in Afghanistan in September when his Chinook helicopter was shot down. He was a member of the Wiccan religion, which is not recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs for use in veterans’ cemeteries. Consequently, his widow’s request that a pentacle, the symbol of Wicca, be placed on his memorial, was denied.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and its National Cemetery Administration prohibit graphics on government-furnished headstones that have not been approved as “emblems of belief.”
It is obvious from the lengthy list of already-approved emblems that the NCA has been willing to recognize a wide variety of religions, and so it is no surprise that Lt. Col. Robert Harrington, battalion commander of the Nevada National Guard, believes that Stewart will get his pentacle. Roberta Stewart says that she has received a lot of support from the military community to have the emblem included, and Congressman Jim Gibbons has stated he would like to see the Department of Veterans Affairs act quickly on the application.