WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — The ashes of Matthew Shepard, whose brutal murder in the 1990s became a rallying cry for the gay rights movement, were laid to rest in Washington National Cathedral Friday.
Shepard’s remains have for 20 years been kept by his family in Wyoming, where the 21-year-old college student was killed in 1998.
Shepard’s murder at the hands of two roofing workers, who authorities say targeted him because he was gay, grabbed national headlines. The gruesome nature of the crime threw a spotlight on the hatred, violence, and discrimination endured by LGBTQ individuals and communities across America.
“He always had a fondness for the church and the ceremony involved with it,” Shepard’s father, Dennis said.
For 20 years, Dennis Shepard and his wife Judy have wanted to somehow memorialize Matthew’s remains but worried about possible vandalism.
“That would be just like killing Matt all over again. I couldn’t deal with that,” Judy Shepard explained.
Matthew’s funeral joins the memorial services for several U.S. presidents and national heroes like Neil Armstrong and John McCain among the notable figures to be honored in the Washington National Cathedral.
Also this week, Shepard’s personal items including fair ribbons, notebooks, and homework assignments were donated to the Smithsonian Museum.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)