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Matthew Shepard Will Be Interred At The Washington National Cathedral, 20 Years After His Death

The Wyoming college student, who was murdered in 1998, will be interred at Washington National Cathedral on Friday, October 26…

It’s been 20 years since Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old openly gay college student, was murdered in a anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming. On Friday, October 26, he will finally be laid to rest.

Shepard’s ashes will be interred at the Washington National Cathedral after a service to celebrate and remember his life. The service will be presided over by the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Episcopal Bishop of Washington, and the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay priest to be consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church. Following the service there will be a private interment in the Cathedral crypt.

Shepard’s parents picked the Cathedral as his final resting place because he loved the Episcopal Church and felt welcomed at one he attended in Wyoming.

“For the past 20 years, we have shared Matt’s story with the world. It’s reassuring to know he now will rest in a sacred spot where folks can come to reflect on creating a safer, kinder world,” said Judy Shepard, Shepard’s mother, in a statement.

October 12, is the 20th anniversary of Shepard’s death.

On the night of October 6, 1998, two men (Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson) lured Shepard from the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, a town of 25,000 near the Wyoming-Colorado border, and drove him to a remote rural area on the eastern side of Laramie where they proceeded to rob, pistol-whip, torture and bludgeon him, tying him to a rough-hewn wooden buck fence and leaving him to die. He was found at 6pm the next day by a passing cyclist and rushed to hospital where he died six days later.

The violent attack shocked the world and Shepard’s death began a conversation about hatred and LGBTQ+ rights everywhere.

On October 16, 1998, mourners from across the globe flocked to Shepard’s funeral at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Casper, Wyoming. The funeral was met with protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church carrying signs that read “God Hates Fags” and “Matt In Hell.” Shepard’s parents worried that if they chose a final resting place for their son, it would be at risk of desecration. So for 20 years, the ashes of Matthew Shepard have not been laid to rest.

“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.”

“In the years since Matthew’s death, the Shepard family has shown extraordinary courage and grace in keeping his spirit and memory alive, and the Cathedral is honored and humbled to serve as his final resting place,” said the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral.

* In the coming weeks, IN Magazine will release our November/December 2018 issue which will include a cover story that looks back at Matthew Shepard’s murder and asks what does his death say to us today? The issue will hit streets on November 1, 2018

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