Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Honoring Those Who Served

There are at least three distinct differences between President Bush and Sgt. Patrick Stewart (deceased). First, Patrick Stewart actually went overseas and fought in a war. Second, Patrick Stewart was killed in action, and third, Patrick Stewart was a Wiccan.

It's the last part of that situation that President Bush apparently has issue with, as did the Veteran's Administration. You see, the VA apparently did not want to put the inverted pentagram on Stewart's headstone in the VA cemetary in Reno, because they did not consider Wicca to be a "real" religion. President Bush has spoken out against Wicca in the past. That's ok. President Bush is entitled to his thoughts on the Wiccan religion. But when he acts on that prejudice, that's where I have a problem:
On Tuesday, following an address to the American Legion's national convention in Reno, [President] Bush met with norhtern Nevada family members of soldiers who have perished in combat. Roberta Stewart, whose husband, Sgt. Patrick Stewart was killed in combat in Afghanistan, was not invited, even though other relatives of Sgt. Stewart were.
The article notes that Sgt. Stewart's parents and brother were invited to meet with the President, but not his widow. As if to rub salt in the wound, the President did invite the widow of a fellow servicemember who perished in the same Chinook Helicopter as Sgt. Stewart.

All I can say is shame on the President. It was bad enough when the VA attempted to deny this veteran's religious choice the same respect it does others, but when the leader of the nation acts as though a woman who stood up for the rights of ALL servicemen and women on her soldier husband's behalf is somehow deserving of a one-finger salute, then that shows a fundamental flaw in how he approaches religion and religious freedom. This was wrong, and President Bush owes her a very public and very personal apology.

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