Thanks to the initiative of Deborah Henry from Imperial, Mo., the “Luther Rose” (also known as “Martin Luther’s seal”) is now approved for inscription on headstones of veterans’ grave markers in U.S. national cemeteries.
Henry is a member of Hope Lutheran Church in St. Louis. She also is an LCMS-rostered teacher, although currently without a call.
The rose emblem — now among those officially approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) National Cemetery Administration — will appear on the headstone for her father and mother, whose graves are at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in south St. Louis County.
Burton Wolf, Henry’s father, served in the Naval Reserve and on active duty on supply ships in the North Atlantic and South Pacific during World War II. He died July 11, 2012, at the age of 98. Her mother, Juanita Wolf, died June 2, 2011, at 90. They also were members of Hope Lutheran Church, and previously had been long-time members of Salem Lutheran Church, Black Jack, Mo. They were the parents of three children.
Henry’s efforts to have the Luther Rose appear on their headstone began shortly after her mother’s death, when she and her sister — Maureen Michael of Freeport, Texas — agreed on the idea for it.
At that time, the LCMS logo-cross design and a “Lutheran Cross” with elements of Luther’s seal were among the National Cemetery Administration’s approved designs for grave markers — but not the rose itself, which they preferred.
Henry worked with a St. Louis-area funeral home in selecting the emblem for her parents’ cemetery marker. For the Luther Rose to be added to the list of VA-approved designs, she received a letter of support from the Synod, provided by Vicki Biggs, director of Integrated Communications for the Synod.
On the day her father died, Henry received a letter from the VA informing her that her family’s request had been approved.
“Perhaps this is information that should be publicized to the LCMS membership,” she wrote in an email thanking the Synod “for help in this process.”
Chaplain Mark Schreiber, director of the Synod’s Ministry to the Armed Forces, thanked Henry in an Aug. 3 email.
“I want to personally applaud and thank you for your diligence and perseverance with the VA in obtaining approval of Luther’s seal for headstones in our national cemeteries,” Schreiber wrote to her. “Living and dying in the Christian/Lutheran faith is a distinct blessing and recognizing the faith with a special emblem is a unique and perpetual witness to all who visit our national cemeteries. May the blessed hope and joy of the Resurrection in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, grant you perpetual peace.”
Henry expects her parents’ new headstone to be in place by sometime this fall. In addition to the newly-approved Luther Rose, the stone will be inscribed with “Soli Deo Gloria” (“to God alone be glory”) and references to several Bible verses that express Christian assurance and hope — including John 11:25, John 3:16, 1 Cor. 15:57, and Job 19:25.
“I just wish I could do like real-estate agents who have little plastic containers with information about the property available on the front lawn, and put one with fliers explaining the Luther Rose next to their grave at the cemetery,” Henry told Reporter.
The Luther Rose is No. 51 on the list of “Available Emblems of Belief for Placement on Government Headstones, Markers and Medallions” (www.cem.va.gov/hm/hmemb.asp).
To request the Luther Rose on new tombstones or markers — or those already in place — go to cem.va.gov, click on “Headstones, Markers and Medallions,” then complete VA Form 40-1330, “Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker.”
Posted Sept. 5, 2012