Matthew Shepard Will Be Interred at the Washington National Cathedral, 20 Years After His Death

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For 20 years, the ashes of Matthew Shepard have not been laid to rest. Mr. Shephard’s murder in 1998, when he was a 21-year-old college student, led to national outrage and, almost overnight, turned him into a symbol of deadly violence against gay people.

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Mourners attended his funeral, that year in Casper, Wyo., but there were also some protesters, carrying derogatory signs. Mr. Shepard’s parents worried that if they chose a final resting place for their son, it would be at risk of desecration.

Now they have found a safe place. On Oct. 26, Mr. Shepard will be interred at the Washington National Cathedral, the neo-Gothic, Episcopal house of worship that is a fixture of American politics and religion.

“I think it’s the perfect, appropriate place,” Dennis Shepard, Matthew’s father, said in an interview on Thursday. “We are, as a family, happy and relieved that we now have a final home for Matthew, a place that he himself would love.”

Two decades ago, Matthew Shepard was robbed by two men, pistol-whipped and tied to a fence in Laramie. He hung there bleeding in near-freezing temperatures until s passerby saw him,  thinking at first that he was a scarecrow. He later died in a hospital.

“His death was a wound on our nation,” Mariann Edgar Budde, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, said in an interview on Wednesday. “We are doing our part to bring light out of that darkness and healing to those who have been so often hurt, and sometimes hurt in the name of the church.”

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:  AP
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