Just after the 20th anniversary of his murder, Matthew Shepard is being honored in Washington, D.C.
According to the Washingtonian, the Washington National Cathedral, the church where Shepard was finally laid to rest, is teaming up with the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Both organizations have joined together to honor the late gay, University of Wyoming student who was brutally murdered in 1998.
The following twenty years, Shepard was without a burial site for fear of it being vandalized. But after his addition to the cathedral, representative Kevin Eckstrom says the opposite began to happen. Visitors started showing up in droves to not besmirch Shepard’s legacy, but to honor it. Eckstrom even went so far as to say Shepard was one of the most important people buried there. That includes such notable company as Hellen Keller and former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.
In order to respect that legacy and the long line of visitors wishing to do that same, the foundation and the cathedral created a GoFundMe. The GoFundMe page raised $30,000 for a permanent marker.
“Its not just a burial site, it is a pilgrimage site in a lot of ways for a lot of people,” Eckstrom said. “We wanted to find a way to honor that experience, but also to help people to have something to see and touch and have a connection to.”
A dedication ceremony will be held on December 2, the day after Shepard’s birthday, to honor the installation of this marker. Several speakers and musicians have signed on to participate in the event. This includes Shepard’s mother, Judy Shepard, who also happens to be the co-founder and president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.
“People around the world gave generously to make this memorial possible,” said Judy. “We’re grateful for each gift that created this beautiful plaque that now marks Matt’s final resting place. We hope this will be a place that forever offers solace and strength for all who visit.”
Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith of the National Cathedral and Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde will lead the ceremony.
“As a sacred space for the nation and house of prayer for all people, the Cathedral is honored and humbled to serve as Matthew’s final resting place, and to take this further step to show that, finally, Matthew is home and he is safe,” said Hollerith.
He then added:
“Matthew’s indelible legacy and the enduring strength and courage of his family and loved ones serve as a guiding force for all of us in how to confront bigotry by fostering greater love, acceptance and embrace of people of all backgrounds, gender identities and sexual orientations. We are proud to play our part in this important, necessary struggle.”
Other participants in the event will be Dennis Shepard, Matthew’s father, out singer Mary Lambert, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, and Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church.
Source: The Washingtonian,