A plaque in honour of Matthew Shepard has been unveiled at the Washington National Cathedral, his final place of rest. At a special ceremony attended by his parents, speakers and musicians came together to remember Matthew and mark his legacy in an effort to “envision a future without hate, where understanding and compassion guide us toward an equitable world” – as the Matthew Shepard Foundation shared.
The plaque reads, “Matt, rest gently in this place. You are home safe now. Peace be with you and all who visit here.” Funds for the memorial were raised by the Foundation named after him as well as kind donors.
In a public statement, Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother, said, “We’ve given much thought to Matt’s final resting place, and we found the Washington National Cathedral is an ideal choice, as Matt loved the Episcopal church and felt welcomed by his church 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.”
Matthew was murdered in a brutal homophobic attack in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. His funeral was attended by homophobic picketers as well as mourners, so Matthew’s family never decided on a final resting place for him out of fear that it would be tarnished by homophobic vandals.
20 years later, on October 26, 2018, Matthew was finally put to rest at the Washington National Cathedral in a private ceremony following a public remembrance service.
At the time, the Dean of the cathedral, Rev Randy Hollerith, said, “The Shepard family has shown extraordinary courage and grace in keeping his spirit and memory alive, and the cathedral is honoured and humbled to serve as his final resting place.”
Following Matthew’s murder, a law was introduced in his name, which allows prosecution of hate crimes against people because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability.
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