WASHINGTON — The widow of a Wiccan soldier killed in Afghanistan last year says after months of waiting, she is ready to take the Department of Veterans Affairs to court to get a pentacle engraved on her husband’s memorial plaque.
“I’m getting sick from the stress of all of this,” said Roberta Stewart, whose husband, Patrick, served in the Nevada National Guard. “I’m spending six hours a day on this. I just want to put it to an end.”
Currently the National Cemetery Administration has 38 permitted religious symbols for headstones and plaques, but none for pagans or Wiccans.
After Patrick was killed in a helicopter attack last September, his wife asked for the encircled five-pointed star to be put on his plaque on the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Wall in Fernley. But since the pentacle is not currently approved by the department, his space on the wall has remained blank.
I feel for this woman. It’s amazing to me that the DVA is so slow to honor this man with a symbol of his religion. Hopefully this woman will be successful in court, as I see this as a real test for religious freedom.