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Saturday, March 04, 2006

UPDATE: Wiccan request gains support

The battalion commander in charge of the Nevada National Guard unit that lost Sgt. Patrick Stewart in Afghanistan in September said Thursday that he believes the Department of Veterans Affairs will act favorably on a request to allow a Wiccan religious symbol to be used for Stewart's memorial at the Fernley veterans cemetery.

Battalion commander Lt. Col. Robert Harington also said he supports the efforts of Roberta Stewart, the widow of Patrick Stewart, to win approval to use the Wiccan symbol of a pentacle on her husband's memorial plaque.

"The system reacts slowly to change," Harington said. "I think Roberta has the right attitude. They will take care of it. They just need to grind it through the system."

Harington said he does not object to the use of the symbol -- a five-pointed star with one point facing up enclosed in a circle -- in a veterans cemetery.

"I don't think any American soldier would object," he said. "We have a mixing ground of American society in the armed forces. We have soldiers from every walk of life and every faith. We are all accepted in our community."

Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, said he would like to see the application acted on quickly.

"Obviously, it was disheartening to read about a brave soldier's widow unable to honor her husband at the memorial site in Fernley," Gibbons said in a statement. "It is my hope that the VA will act expeditiously to resolve this matter."

Roberta Stewart made her concerns known publicly because it had been five months since her husband died and the spot for his memorial plaque remained blank.

Stewart said Wednesday she wants the marker placed in the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery so the family can put her husband to rest and move on.

"The reaction has been pretty large and favorable, mostly from the military community," she said Thursday. "I'm just trying to keep a positive attitude and hope the government will see the error of this and push it through to make it a recognized emblem for all Wiccans and pagans."

More Info on what Wicca really is: Here


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