Wiccan Sign Allowed on Soldier’s Plaque

Finally, someone’s willing to give Sgt. Patrick Stewart some of that Freedom of Religion he fought and died for.

The widow of a soldier killed in Afghanistan won state approval Wednesday to place a Wiccan religious symbol on his memorial plaque [1], something the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had refused.

Now, if you read the whole thing, it seems that the Department of Veterans Affairs punted.

But state officials said they had received a legal opinion from the Nevada attorney general’s office that concluded federal officials have no authority over state veterans’ cemeteries.

“The VA still has not determined yet if a Wiccan symbol can go on the headstone,” said Tim Tetz, executive director of the Nevada Office of Veterans Services. “But we have determined we control the state cemetery and that we therefore have the ability to recognize him for his service to his country.”

One step at a time :-). Rest easier, Sergeant, those freedoms aren’t a lost cause yet.

26 comments

Flower jar (4.00 / 18)

Since flowers are a fitting remembrance for many different paths.

by Morgan on Wed Sep 13th, 2006 at 19:19:25 PDT

Morgan, (4.00 / 7)

I am so happy that some one has acknowledged the sacrifice that Patrick Steward and his wife made for their country. I know that Roberta  and Selena Fox met with Minority Senate Leader,Harry Reid of Nevada. He promised to help. Maybe this is as good as we can expect right now. Maybe Pagans need to not join a military that does not respect them, except as cannon fodder.

How dare this country accept some religions and not all. The Pagan community needs to take the Gov.  to court, make them prove why Pagan soldiers are worth less when dead.

Many Blessings, and thank you for what is really good news. One step at a time…

by Keir on Wed Sep 13th, 2006 at 19:47:10 PDT

Poppies for a Fallen Soldier (4.00 / 7)

© FreeFoto.com; used with permission.

Loud ‘n’ proud member of species Propheticus lycanthroponica since his “turning” circa 1684 C.E.

by The Werewolf Prophet on Wed Sep 13th, 2006 at 20:13:13 PDT

“In Flanders Fields” (4.00 / 5)

In Flanders Fields
~ John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the symbols1, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Edited
1. Original reads “crosses”

Loud ‘n’ proud member of species Propheticus lycanthroponica since his “turning” circa 1684 C.E.

by The Werewolf Prophet on Wed Sep 13th, 2006 at 20:36:14 PDT

The reason it read “crosses” (4.00 / 5)

was because Flanders Field looks like this:

I’ve never been a fan of the poem.  The first stanzas are very moving, but the last stanza never set well with me: Take up our quarrel with the foe

No thanks.  The foe we all ultimately fight is fear and ignorance, not the people on the battlefield.  Would we fight if we could truly see and love our enemies as ourselves?

I prefer Wilfred Owen:

As Bronze may be much Beautified

As bronze may be much beautified
By lying in the dark damp soil,
So men who fade in dust of warfare fade
Fairer, and sorrow blooms their soul.

Like pearls which noble women wear
And, tarnishing, awhile confide
Unto the old salt sea to feed,
Many return more lustrous than they were.

But what of them buried profound,
Buried where we can no more find.
Who ( )
Lie dark for ever under abysmal war?

I did a series at the start of the Noonday Prayer during Lent, you’re welcome to check out 10 of his poems and some original color photography of WWI starting here.

“The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.” ~ Psalm 121:5-6

by Sweet Georgia Peach on Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 06:00:37 PDT

Wonderfully moving poem (4.00 / 4)

Thanks for posting this…I’d never come across it before, but now I’ve added it to my “notebook”.

Blessings!

by LunarEclipse on Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 06:41:35 PDT

It was new to me too before last Lent… (4.00 / 3)

I found it at this wonderful site that lists many of Owen’s war poems from his manuscripts.  Check it out here.

“The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.” ~ Psalm 121:5-6

by Sweet Georgia Peach on Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 08:49:18 PDT

I agree with you (4.00 / 3)

The last stanza rankles me, too, and I was originally going to leave it out of my post, but then I felt it wrong to alter the author’s words any further after having already edited “crosses” to “symbols”.

I’ve seen pictures of Flanders Field, so knew that the poem was referring to actual crosses. However, in the spirit of this diary – the first official use of a Wiccan symbol (Pentagram, I assume) in a State military cemetery – I thought it appropriate to make that one edit, especially since so many folk think the Cross and the Pentagram are somehow mortal enemies.

Loud ‘n’ proud member of species Propheticus lycanthroponica since his “turning” circa 1684 C.E.

by The Werewolf Prophet on Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 11:36:54 PDT

I know the spirit in which it was meant. (none / 1)

And given the post, yes, it was appropriate.  But I hate altering previously written sentiments because of the PCers.  In the church there’s a constant battle with this.

Just because I start the Lord’s Prayer “Our Father” doesn’t mean I negate the Mother aspect of God.  But many of the liberal Christians I know get on me for not acknowledging both sides all the time (ex. Mother/Father, or Creator, or Guardian).  Please.  I’m not going to negate the masculine just because the feminine has been represented.

So, it wrankles because the stark image of Flanders Field with its rows of crosses is powerful.  Saying something nondescript like “symbols” doesn’t conjure the same image and when people have memorized the poem it draws even more attention than it may have intended because then people stop because it doesn’t sound like their old familiar poem (not always a bad thing, but still…)

I don’t disagree with you in this situation necessarily, just with the practice in general.

::scratches behind the wolfie ears:: And I would NEVER say that the Cross and Pentgram are mortal enemies. 🙂

“The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.” ~ Psalm 121:5-6

by Sweet Georgia Peach on Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 14:59:38 PDT

Here is another poem. (none / 0)

Robert W. Service is not known for war poetry.  But the author of “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” and “The Cremation of Sam Magee” had been an ambulance driver in WWI and he had some strong feelings on the subject of war.

His poem, “Don’t Cheer,” isn’t as graceful as the one by Wilfred Owen.  Robert Service never really thought of himself as a true poet.  But this poem, although awkard in places, has true power.

Don’t Cheer
by Robert W Service

Don’t cheer, damn you! Don’t cheer!
Silence! Your bitterest tear
Is fulsomely sweet to-day. . . .
Down on your knees and pray.

See, they sing as they go,
Marching row upon row.
Who will be spared to return,
Sombre and starkly stern?
Chaps whom we knew – s0 strange,
Distant and dark with change;
Silent as those they slew,
Something in them dead too.
Who will return this way,
To sing as they sing to-day.

Send to the glut of the guns
Bravest and best of you sons.
Hurl a million to slaughter,
Blood flowing like Thames water;
Pile up pyramid high
Your dead to the anguished sky;
A monument down all time
Of hate and horror and crime.
Weep, rage, pity, curse, fear –
Anything, but . . . don’t cheer.

Sow to the ploughing guns
Seed of your splendid sons.
Let your heroic slain
Richly manure the plain.
What will the harvest be?
Unborn of Unborn will see. . . .

Dark is the sky and drear. . . .
For the pity of God don’t cheer.
Dark and dread is their way.
Who sing as they march to-day. . . .
Humble your hearts and pray.

by goldenglove on Fri Sep 15th, 2006 at 12:15:03 PDT

Remembrance (4.00 / 6)

Pray you, love, remember.

Ophelia : There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.

~ Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Loud ‘n’ proud member of species Propheticus lycanthroponica since his “turning” circa 1684 C.E.

by The Werewolf Prophet on Wed Sep 13th, 2006 at 20:59:50 PDT

Another Poppy… (4.00 / 5)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

For all the fallen Pagans who fought bravely for our country.

Q.

Choo Choo Q. ~Retired locomotive engineer, Author, Wiccan priestess–and snarky were-wolverine since 1999.

by Quotefiend on Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 04:35:01 PDT

Symbol (4.00 / 3)

I rembered this song written and sung by Celia at the Rally in DC for adding the Pentacle as an emblem of Belief.

“Symbol”
By Celia   www.celiaonline.com
© 2006 Red Granite Goddess Publishing

An American Soldier Came home today,
Wrapped up as cargo in an American Flag.
He asked for one sweet, silent symbol on his Grave.
But the VA guns said “Sorry Son, Request denied”.

He served as any other with his hands and with his heart.
He prayed to Father Sky, bowed Down to Mother Earth.
He honored Air and Water and the Fire he danced around.
But you didn’t honor him before you put him in the Ground.

Chorus:
It’s a Symbol it’s a Sign it stands for Everything Divine.
Excuse me Sir, I think you’re wrong, I checked and the last time
I read the doctrine it said practicing your faith is not a crime.
So let this soldier rest………Honor his request.
(So, if you make these children pray…Let them do it their own way)
(So, Let his widow rest……Honor her request)

You sent that little girl crying home from school.
Told her she was evil and she disobeyed the rules.
You took away her pendant.  Grandmother’s Gift.
But the other kids are free to wear their Crucifix.

And she knows that if you catch her that you’ll have her expelled.
She’s frightened every member of her family is  going to hell.
She’s all messed up she’s five years old…she doesn’t know her rights.
But her Daddy is a Lawyer so get ready for the fight.

Chorus

He’s a believer so he wears it on his arm.  
First day, new job he set off all the alarms.
The memo spread like wildfire that the devil had arrived.
And the virus got to corporate and they fired him by five.

Now all this misperception and everyone runs scared.
Scared of the neighbors and Scared to declare.
‘Cuz the persecutions high Expelled, or Fired or Denied.
So what the Hell did our Ancestors fight so hard for?

Chorus

So raise up your chisel and carve next to his name.
All that he held sacred and all that kept him sane.
When you sent him off to war you didn’t care what he believed.
Now he served you with his blood grant him his dignity.

Freedom of Speech. Freedom of Faith. Freedom of Religion.
Freedom to Stand up and Fight For What We Believe in.
Freedom to Die for your Country and Be Recognized
With a Symbol of Honor in your Countries Eyes.

by Keir on Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 14:07:33 PDT

This is amazing. (none / 0)

I don’t know of Celia but I will search for her music. I would love to hear this.  The words alone move me. I can’t get my head around why issue is such a problem.  Just do it.
Thank goodness for a beginning.

by The ABC Gang on Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 22:13:19 PDT

Here’s a link for you… (none / 0)

“Symbol” by Celia [2]

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” — Hunter S. Thompson

by rune on Fri Sep 15th, 2006 at 07:55:12 PDT

It’s about time (4.00 / 6)

This has been in the news for far too long now. It’s really disgraceful how the VA has treated the family – and the soldier.



Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.
Those who study history are doomed to know it’s repeating.
– Jwhitlock

by Alice Venturi on Wed Sep 13th, 2006 at 19:44:06 PDT

ALL RIGHT (4.00 / 6)

well – “all” will be “right” when VA official policy is inclusive – but a heck of a step in the right direction – they punted – but now there’s precident – should make the next case easier.

Good news.

Join Soulforce-seeking Justice for God’s GLBT children.
Read My Left Wing

by its simple IF you ignore the complexity on Wed Sep 13th, 2006 at 20:16:03 PDT

thank goodness (4.00 / 4)

it’s a start!

by Elizabeth D on Wed Sep 13th, 2006 at 20:38:52 PDT

Marigolds (4.00 / 7)

“There ain’t no sanity clause.” Chico Marx

by Asbury Park on Wed Sep 13th, 2006 at 21:16:58 PDT

Wonderful (4.00 / 5)

I hope others are also able to get their symbols added as well.

“Whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

by sdc2027 on Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 01:10:28 PDT

This is the best news! (4.00 / 4)

I’m so happy someone stepped up to do the right thing!

Blessings!

by LunarEclipse on Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 04:29:34 PDT

They didn’t discriminate in his fighting (4.00 / 5)

for this country. Now they must respect his beliefs. The VA of all organizations should read the First Amendment to the Constitution they say we fight for. How outrageous that Americans not only fight their wars in the sands of the Middle East, but then must fight their own right here for a right that is inherent in the fabric of any true Democracy. May he and his family find peace.

by thinkforyourself on Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 07:34:50 PDT

I’m glad his faith is recognized (4.00 / 5)

along with his bravery. But the cynic in me thinks that grave marker will be desecrated in very short order.

by Andy Ternay on Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 07:57:01 PDT

That would be very sad. (4.00 / 3)

But it might help make a point to the society, too.

What kind of scum desecrate graves?  The people who would do such a thing are quite literally no different from the Nazis and neo-Nazis who destroyed Jewish cemetaries and gravemarkers.

The vast majority would turn away from such actions.  Even those who disapprove of Wiccans… violating graves is low, low, low.

Jesus loves you–but I’m his favorite.

by ogre on Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 13:24:09 PDT

Then (none / 1)

Let it be replaced.
One does not succumb to hate by letting it stay damaged or ignored thereafter.

Our gift is Free Will. Infinite in Potential, limited only in Experience.

by R Elland on Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 15:58:55 PDT

Great news (none / 0)

Very late in coming, but glad it’s here.

by Margot on Sun Sep 17th, 2006 at 17:14:36 PDT

[1] Link was to http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/W/WICCAN_SOLDIER
[2] Link was to http://celiaonline.com/symbol.htm

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