First Government-Issued Wiccan Plaque Dedicated

December 6, 2006

Author: Scott Sonner

Source: North Lake Tahoe Bonanza

Wire Service: AP

RENO - Friends and family of a Nevada soldier killed in Afghanistan more than a year ago plan to gather at a veterans cemetery today to dedicate what they say is the first government-issued memorial plaque in the country to include a symbol of the Wiccan faith.

The multicultural, interfaith service for Sgt. Patrick Stewart of Fernley will include blessings by American Indians, Jews, Christians and Wiccans, said the Rev. Selena Fox, one of the Wiccan organizers of the memorial.

"There's quite a diversity of people who are going to be there," Fox said Friday before leaving her home in Wisconsin for the trip to northern Nevada.

"People are flying in from across the country to attend the dedication," she said.

Stewart's plaque was installed last week on the Veterans Memorial Wall at the Northern Nevada Veterans Cemetery in Fernley, about 30 miles east of Reno.

The Nevada Army National Guardsmen and four other soldiers died Sept. 25, 2005, when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan.