Archives For Memorial Day

In America, today is Memorial Day, a federal holiday that recognizes those who have died in the service of our military forces. For decades modern Pagan military personnel have worked to see that their contributions and sacrifices were given equal honor and recognition. Today, Pagan involvement in our armed forces is at a level of visibility and acceptance never before imagined, though with that recognition comes new challenges. While we work to continue our advances, let’s take a moment to recognize the fallen.

“Memorial Day weekend Remembering, Honoring, Thanking Military Pagan Dead at Veterans Ridge of Circle Cemetery at Circle Sanctuary headquarters near Barneveld, Wisconsin.”Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary

“Some feel it’s macabre to celebrate death, and phrased like that, I can understand. But we as Pagans do not celebrate death the way most folks celebrate birthdays. We celebrate the life the person lived. So in that way, I do not feel it’s in any way disrespectful to hang out at the beach on Memorial Day or to get your grill on, as long as at some point during the feasting and festivities for the unofficial kickoff to summer, you acknowledge why we have the holiday.”Lori Dake, PaganSquare

Pagan headstone at Arlington National Cemetery.

Pagan headstone at Arlington National Cemetery.

“I’m planning some ritualizing this Saturday, but I’m also going to set aside a few moments to remember those who sacrificed their lives for the greater good of us all. I think the meaning of Memorial Day often gets lost over the long weekend, and it is about more than the start of summer and backyard barbecues. Light a candle and say a prayer to the brave fighting women and men who have lost their lives in service to our country (or your country for those of you outside the United States).”Jason Mankey, Patheos.com

“Honoring the military dead isn’t about supporting the wars in which they fought. It’s about recognizing the sacrifice of men and women not too different from us, who did what they believed necessary. It’s about honoring their sacrifice, because we are here and they are not and in many respects we are here because they put themselves in harms way and are not. One day a year, two if one counts Veterans Day, is not too much to give. The greatest gift we can give them is respect and remembrance. Let us not forget our fallen warriors, our soldiers, the men and women who laid down their lives for ours. Hail them.”Galina Krasskova, PaganSquare

The modern military experience can also be a modern Pagan experience, those who are wounded and die in our country’s service aren’t an anonymous “other” removed from our experiences, but us. We here at The Wild Hunt give honor to all our Pagan brothers and sisters who have served, are serving, and have fallen in the line of duty. Please feel free to link or post any observances, tributes, thoughts, or remembrances you think appropriate on this day.

In America, today is Memorial Day, a federal holiday that recognizes those who have died in the service of our military forces. For decades modern Pagan military personnel have worked to see that their contributions and sacrifices were given equal honor and recognition. Today, Pagan involvement in our armed forces is at a level of visibility and acceptance never before imagined, though with that recognition comes new challenges. While we work to continue our advances, let’s take a moment to recognize the fallen.

Marker for Sgt. Patrick Stewart.

Marker for Sgt. Patrick Stewart.

Circle Sanctuary is compiling a list of Pagan military who have died in the line of duty.

AFGHANISTAN: Operation Enduring Freedom

Sgt. Patrick Dana Stewart of Fernley, Nevada.
Nevada Army National Guard. Killed in action, died September 25, 2005, age 34.
Cremains scattered September 25, 2006, Nevada Highlands, Nevada.
Some cremains buried May 28, 2007, Circle Cemetery, near Barneveld, Wisconsin.

IRAQ: Operation Iraqi Freedom

Spc. James W. Price of Cleveland, Tennessee.
US Army. Killed in action, died September 18, 2004, age 22.
Buried in Sunset Memorial Gardens, Cleveland, Tennessee.

Pfc. Stephen P. Snowberger, III of Lopez, Pennsylvania.
US Army. Killed in action, died May 11, 2006, age 18.
Buried in Brown Family Cemetery, Lexington, North Carolina.

Sgt. Jason Alan Schumann of Hawley, Minnesota.
US Army. Killed in action, died May 19, 2007, age 23.
Buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Spc. Charles Thomas Heinlein, Jr. of Hemlock, Michigan.
US Army. Killed in action, died July 31, 2007, age 23.
Buried in Section 60, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

Pfc. Juctin R. P. McDaniel of Andover, New Hampshire.
US Army. Died December 17, 2007, age 19.
Buried in New Hampshire State Cemetery, New Hampshire.

Sgt. Michael Bramer of Fayetteville, North Carolina.
US Army (2001-2006). Severe head injuries in combat in October, 2003.
Died in California of injuries on January 17, 2007, age 23.
Buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Bath, Maine.

The modern military experience can also be a modern Pagan experience, those who are wounded and die in our country’s service aren’t an anonymous “other” removed from our experiences, but us. We here at The Wild Hunt give honor to all our Pagan brothers and sisters who have served, are serving, and have fallen in the line of duty. Please feel free to link or post any observances, tributes, thoughts, or remembrances you think appropriate on this day.

In America, today is Memorial Day, a federal holiday that recognizes those who have died in the service of our military forces. For decades modern Pagan military personnel have worked to see that their contributions and sacrifices were given equal honor and recognition. Today, Pagan involvement in our armed forces is at level of visibility and acceptance never before imagined, though with that recognition comes new challenges and questions.

Modern Pagan religions, like other established faiths, have been taking the time to observe Memorial Day and honor those who have fought and fallen in our name. The modern military experience can also be a modern Pagan experience, and that some who are wounded and die in our country’s service aren’t an anonymous “other” removed from our experiences, but us. For example, Pagans in Minnesota will gather at Ft. Snelling to honor Sgt. Jason Schumann and Specialist Daniel Schrankler.

“Once again, area Pagans gather at Ft. Snelling to honor Sgt. Jason Schumann and Specialist Daniel Schrankler as part of a Memorial Day observance.  Other fallen soldiers are also remembered and honored in a ceremony at their gravesites at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The ritual is conducted by Joe and Tracy Jarvinen and their family.”

At the Warriors & Kin blog Lori Dake, in conjunction with the Pagan Newswire Collective, is spearheading an initiative this Memorial Day to participate in the Overseas Coupon Program.

“Saving up coupons is such a simple thing to do, and by participating in this program, it will be one more way our community becomes recognized by folks who may not even realize we exist or cling to stereotypes and/or misconceptions. And hey, it will help you and yours at the same time, since you’ll be coming across some deals you will surely want to keep for yourself.”

Details can be found at the Warriors & Kin blog.

Circle Sanctuary has issues a press release listing their many Memorial Day-themed events and observances.

Pagans across the United States and in other parts of the world are remembering and honoring Pagan Military Dead this Memorial Day weekend with ceremonies, gravesite visits, meditations, and internet tributes. The Pagan Military Association is putting out the call for the sharing of remembrances, links, photos, videos, and other honorings of Pagan Military Dead on its newly launched social networking site on Facebook. Also welcome are posts describing individual and group remembrances of Pagan Military Dead being held this weekend.

The Pagan Military Association provides information and support to Pagans who are serving and who have served in the military, as well as to their families and friends. This network is open to Pagans of many paths and organizational affiliations, in the United States and other countries.

Circle Sanctuary’s military ministers are honoring the Pagan Military Dead with Memorial Day rites in several locations. David and Jeanet Ewing of Virginia and Debby Morris of Maryland will be at Arlington National Cemetery in the Washington, DC area doing ceremonial remembrances at the pentacle-inscribed grave markers of Pagan Military Dead there. David Sassman will be doing remembrances in his home state of Indiana.

Michelle Boshears of Georgia will be doing a Memorial Day Rite of Remembrance at Veterans Ridge of Circle Cemetery. This ceremony, open to those taking part in this weekend’s Sacred Fire Circle at Circle Sanctuary land, will include a special salute to each of the eight Pagan Military veterans whose cremains have been interred at the cemetery and marked with a VA-issued pentacle marker. This ceremony is the fifth consecutive Pagan Memorial Day Rite of Remembrance held at Circle Cemetery since the first pentacle markers honoring Pagan Military Dead were dedicated there on Memorial Day, 2007.

As Memorial Day weekend began, singer-songwriter Celia of New Mexico visited the Pagan veterans’ gravesites at Circle Cemetery, including that of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, the Pagan hero honored in her song, “Symbol.” During Celia’s visit, she filmed a short tribute to Sgt. Stewart with Selena Fox, which was just released.

A tribute to Pagan Military Dead by Selena will be in the first part of her upcoming appearance on internet radio with Robby Wrench. Memorial Day Magic will be aired on Monday night, May 30 at 7 pm CDT.

In addition, Selena Fox will be facilitating a Circle of Remembrance for the Pagan Military Dead on Memorial Day morning at 9:30 am EDT at Michigan Pagan Fest at the Wayne County Fairgrounds near Detroit. This rite, as well as the festival itself, is open to Pagans of many traditions. At gate registration is an option for those who wish to attend.

This Memorial Day morning rite will include the reading of names of Pagan Military Dead and this blessing by Selena: “As part of Memorial Day observances this year, may we remember and honor the Pagan Military Dead, send comfort and support to their loved ones, and appreciate the contributions of Pagans in the military, living and dead, for their service. May we join together in the quest for a healthier world, with liberty and justice for all.”

More information about Circle Sanctuary’s Pagan Military support services, head over to their web site.

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.” Thucydides

We here at The Wild Hunt give honor to all our Pagan brothers and sisters who have served, are serving, and have fallen in the line of duty. Please feel free to link or post any observances, tributes, thoughts, or remembrances you think appropriate on this day. I will likely add more resources to this page as more Memorial Day links appear.

In America, today is Memorial Day, a federal holiday that recognizes those who have died in the service of our military forces. For decades modern Pagan military personnel have worked to see that their contributions and sacrifices were given equal honor and recognition. Today, Pagan involvement in our armed forces is at level of visibility and acceptance never before imagined, though with that recognition comes new challenges and questions.

I urge you to listen to the voices of our military Pagan personnel, and their families, past and present, on this day. At the Warriors & Kin blog, you can read about a Pagan mom who’s son is entering the military, and her experiences with Memorial Day within her family. You can also experience the diverse opinions and experiences of those who serve, have served, and the family that supports them. At the Patheos Pagan Portal, you can read a variety of Pagan voices sharing their experiences of this holiday. I encourage you to read and experience them, to know that the modern military experience can also be a modern Pagan experience, and that some who are wounded and die in our country’s service aren’t an anonymous “other” removed from our experiences, but us.

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.” - Thucydides

We here at The Wild Hunt give honor to all our Pagan brothers and sisters who have served, are serving, and have fallen in the line of duty.

If one fact refutes the idea that modern Paganism in America is merely some sort of 1960s holdover full of pacifists, rebellious teens, and aging baby-boomers (though we have plenty of all three) it is that so many of our number have been, and are, active members of our military services. There are active military (and military family) Pagan groups from Aberdeen, Washington to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. There has been a Military Pagan Network since 1992, and they are joined by Circle Sanctuary’s robust military ministries, and a nascent Pagan Veterans group. So today, Memorial Day, isn’t just a day for those Christian soldiers who marched off to war, but for their Pagan brothers and sisters-in-arms who marched with them. It is a day to not only honor our coreligionists who fell in the line of duty, but to continue to work towards seeing that they are properly respected and honored in death, and given the support they need in life.

We here at The Wild Hunt honor those who gave their lives, and salute those who have served and are serving. May your gods and goddesses watch over and protect you. I leave you now with some thoughts from other Pagans on this day.

“The right for Pagans soldiers and veterans to have the pentacle inscribed on their headstones and memorials was one fought for very hard by Pagan communities throughout the country over the course of several years. Instigated by Veterans’ Affairs refusal to grant the late Sgt. Patrick Stewart a pentacle on his grave marker after he was shot down in Afghanistan, his widow, Roberta Stewart, and Circle Sanctuary’s Lady Liberty League spearheaded an anti-discrimination action against the VA. Pagan communities nationwide joined the fight, and this issue was the formative one that brought together the Upper Midwest Pagan Alliance (UMPA) here in the Twin Cities. UMPA organized a a protest action in in February 2007 in a freezing cold blizzard on the St. Paul Capitol steps at the same time other communities held marches and rallies in support  …  It has been a bittersweet victory; celebrating a hard-won right also brings with it the acknowledgment of the growing number of Pagan military folks and the sacrifices that they are making in order for this and other rights to be upheld. UMPA is continuing to send care packages of religious reading and supplies as well as maintaining correspondences with Pagan soldiers who are still fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.”Murphy Pizza, Minneapolis Pagan Examiner

“I will be going to the Lafayette war memorial on Monday, because people are still killed in war. We will place a pentacle for Sgt. Jason Schumann, enlisted at 17 and dead at 23, father and husband. We shall also recall Sgt. Joseph Ford, a Pagan member of Nova Roma who died in Iraq last May. Memorial Day, for me, is also a day to remember the 100,000 estimated civilians killed in Iraq since 2003, the more than 2,000 dead in Afghanistan just last year, the close to 5,000 US soldiers dead in Iraq and Afghanistan and the 30,000 wounded, and countless others with psychological and emotional distress.”T. Thorn Coyle, Peacock Dreams

“In September of last year I posted about the Order of the Pentacle, of which I am a very proud member. This Memorial Day I will have the Honor and Privilege of representing the Order in a ritual in remembrance of our fallen soldiers. This Memorial Day, Monday May 25th the Pagan Alliance and the Order of the Pentacle will assemble at the War Memorial near the Lafayette BART station we will remember our Pagan Brothers and Sisters who who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will dedicate a new Pentacle for Sergeant Jason A. Schumann of Hawley, Minnesota. Sgt. Schumann was killed by an Improvised Explosive Devise in Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq. I myself have survived several trips through Diwaniyah, and will proudly carry his Pentacle.”Joseph Merlin Nichter, WitchDoctorJoe’s RattleBone

“My monument to the cost of the recent wars will be adorned with flowers and a paper red poppy tomorrow.  And today, I will walk through the beauty of early summer in the Nor’west, thinking of eyes that cannot see it and holding each image in trust for them.  Oh, that we would be wiser and more careful of lives that stand in harm’s way at the order of others!”Labrys, Walk of the Fallen

Blessings to you this Memorial Day.

Today is Memorial Day, when the United States honors its war dead. But this year, in addition to the parades, patriotic speeches, and backyard barbecues, modern Pagans are celebrating a victory for the veterans, widows, and family members who fought for equal recognition.

“Since Korean War veteran Jerome Birnbaum died in 2005, his grave in a pagan cemetery had been marked with only a pile of stones and U.S. flags. On Memorial Day, Birnbaum’s grave and those of other military veterans will be dedicated with government-issued markers etched with a symbol of their religion – the Wiccan pentacle. Wiccans sued the government last year, arguing that it was unduly stalling a decision on whether to add the pentacle to the list of acceptable symbols for veterans’ graves. A settlement between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Wiccans added the five-pointed star to the list of “emblems of belief.” “I like to see our success literally etched in stone, because it will be,” said Birnbaum’s wife, Karen DePolito. She said winning the fight is vindication for all Wiccans.”

Today at Circle Sanctuary near Madison, Wisconsin a ceremony honoring America’s first Memorial Day dedication of Wiccan veteran gravestones with pentacles will take place.

“The Dedication will honor the lives and service of three Wiccan veterans, consecrate their markers, support religious freedom for all, and celebrate the successful conclusion of the ten year quest to have the Wiccan emblem of belief, the Pentacle, added to the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ list of emblems of belief that be included on the veteran grave markers it issues.”

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who helped successfully litigate this case, has issued some remarks on this momentous occasion.

“This is, of course, a solemn occasion. You have gathered to dedicate these markers to fallen loved ones – heroes who died in the service of their nation. But while we must acknowledge our grief, we must also understand that we have reasons today to feel empowered about what has been accomplished. Today’s event is a momentous occasion – and it’s one that could not have taken place even two months ago. As you stand and look at the markers that commemorate the lives and sacrifices of your loved ones, bearing the symbol of their faith that you worked so hard to get placed there, you have many reasons to feel proud.”

So here is to the Pagan men and women who have served our country in peacetime and war, and especially to those who have paid the highest price for their service by giving their lives. While no victory such as this can restore a life, or fill the deep well of sorrow that such a loss brings about, it is always a noble thing to properly honor and respect those who have gone beyond this world. Have a good Memorial Day.