Wiccan Soldier Honored

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It was one year ago tonight, on September 25th, that Sergeant Patrick Stewart of Fernley lost his life in Afghanistan.

More than two dozen family members and friends gathered for an interfaith ceremony on Monday night - Christian and Wiccan - to recognize the anniversary of the loss of Stewart and four other soldiers.

For widow Roberta Stewart, this anniversary is particularly meaningful. It not only marks the loss of her husband, but also a year-long battle with the Veterans Administration over the family faith: Wicca.

Now, 12 months later, his widow may not have to wait much longer for his sacrifice to honored on the memorial wall at Fernley's Veterans Cemetery.

Roberta Stewart has finally been granted the right to display the Wiccan pinnacle on her husband's memorial plaque at the Veterans cemetery. But, it has not been an easy battle for her to win. With the urging of state lawmakers, the Nevada Secretary of State ruled it was a state decision, not the Federal Government's.

Although the small section of the memorial still remains blank, Sergeant Stewart will finally get his plaque on October 21st, his birthday.

Despite the success, Roberta Stewart says her work is not over. She will continue to fight on behalf of other Wiccan soldiers and their widows who aren't being recognized by the Veterans Administration.