Matthew Shepard To Have Final Resting Place In Washington D.C.
After twenty years, Matthew Shepard will finally have his resting place. The 21-year-old Casper native died October 12th, 1998, murdered in Laramie, Wyoming in an anti-gay hate crime that sparked national outrage and turned his death into a symbol of violence against gay people. Matt's ashes will be interred at the Washington National Cathedral later this month, according to a release from the Cathedral.
It's taken a long time for Matt's parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, to find the proper resting place for their son. "They didn't want to bury him in some lonesome cemetery plot in Casper and go 7000 miles away back to earn their living," said Jason Marsden, Matt's friend and the Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. "And because the world took such notice of Matt they had to start worrying about things like what if someone vandalized the grave site?" Ultimately, they decided to have Matt cremated and wait for a moment that made sense, "always with the faith as Episcopalians," Marsden said, "that the answer would present itself eventually, and it did."
At the Cathedral in Washington D.C., the family and the public will be able to pay their respects. "They never wanted to close out the possibility that people of good will who wanted to leave a prayer card or flower or say a prayer could do that, and the National Cathedral is just such a perfect solution to this question because it's a secure facility, it's a dignified place," said Marsden. "Ultimately, for lost loved ones, this is the most important thing, they they be remembered."
Jason points out that that as time passes, subsequent generations are farther from the story of what happened to Matthew Shepard. "The day is going to come, sooner than we want, when we're all gone. All of us who remember Matt, who remember the intensity of the grief over his death, will be a memory. But that Cathedral will still be standing in Washington D.C. and a plaque for Matt will still be affixed there, and people will take note."
“For the past 20 years, we have shared Matt’s story with the world," said Matt's mother, Judy Shepard, in a statement. "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.”
Matthew Shepard's ashes will be interred on Friday, October 26th, following a service of thanksgiving and remembrance. 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, will preside over the service.