Gathering at Ft Snelling Honors the Fallen

For the third year in a row Pagans in the Twin Cities area gathered to honor all fallen Service Members and hold a special ritual for fallen Pagan Service Members.   There are now two headstones in the Ft. Snelling Cemetery that bear pentacles – one for Sgt. Jason Schumann and the other for Specialist Daniel Schrankler.

The Crego family place offerings during the Memorial Day observance

This year over 40 area Pagans attended the event, including entire families.  Tracy Jarvinen, one of the organizers for this memorial observance, said, “We honor all of the soldiers who have fought for our freedoms. We give special attention to Jason Schumann and Daniel Schrankler because as they had once fought for our freedoms, Joe and I, and many, many others helped fight for their freedom to be buried under the Pentacle. It is bringing things full circle.”

Just a few years ago, neither headstone could have legally been marked with a pentacle. The years long legal battle to force the VA to include the pentacle on its list of approved religious symbols is, as Dr Murphy Pizza describes it, “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.”

Headstone for Sgt. Jason Schumann

The Twin Cities Pagan community was active and engaged in the VA Pentacle Quest and continues to show fallen warriors honor each Memorial Day through offerings, words, and by comforting their family members in their time of grief.  That comfort can reach across long distances.  The mother of Sgt. Schumann sent this message,

Dear Tracy and Joe,

Thank you for honoring my son’s grave!  We moved last year to Indiana, and it breaks my heart I could not be there, but I am comforted knowing that he was surrounded by people to honor and remember him. 

Blessed Be )O(“

Each person in attendance left a flower or token at the headstones of Jason Schumann and Daniel Schrankler. The Honor Guard created the sacred space for all to honor. An attendee who is a Vietnam Veteran read the poem, credited to General George S Patton Jr :

The Moon and the Dead

The road of the battle languished,
The hate from the guns was still,
While the moon rose up from a smoke cloud,
And looked at the dead on the hill.

Pale was her face with anguish,
Wet were her eyes with tears,
As she gazed on the twisted corpses,
Cut off in their earliest years.

Some were bit by the bullet,
Some were kissed by the steel,
Some were crushed by the cannon,
But all were still, how still!

The smoke wreaths hung in the hollows,
The blood stink rose in the air;
And the moon looked down in pity,
At the poor dead lying there.

Light of their childhood’s wonder,
Moon of their puppy love,
Goal of their first ambition,
She watched them from above.

Yet not with regret she mourned them,
Fair slain on the field of strife,
Fools only lament the hero,
Who gives for faith his life.

She sighed for the lives extinguished,
She wept for the loves that grieve,
But she glowed with pride on seeing,
That manhood still doth live.

The moon sailed on contented,
Above the heaps of slain,
For she saw that manhood liveth,
And honor breathes again.