Twenty years after he was tied to a fence, beaten, and left to die for being gay, Matthew Shepard will be laid to rest in the same cathedral as Hellen Keller and Woodrow Wilson. The ashes of the University of Wyoming student—kept in an urn since his 1998 murder—will be interred at Washington's National Cathedral following a remembrance service on Oct. 26, the Casper Star-Tribune reports. Shepard's death helped inspire the expansion of hate-crime laws to include crimes relating to sexual orientation. Shepard's mom, Judy, describes the location as "a sacred spot where folks can come to reflect on creating a safer, kinder world."
The dean of the cathedral, which observed the 15th anniversary of Shepard’s death in 2013, said the cathedral was "honored and humbled to serve as his final resting place." He referred to Shepard's death 20 years ago Friday as "an enduring tragedy" that "should serve as an ongoing call to the nation to reject anti-LGBTQ bigotry." Despite the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide, there is much still to be done in terms of legal protections, while cyberbullying presents a new and "profoundly damaging" problem for LGBT youth, Jason Marsden of the Matthew Shepard Foundation tells the San Diego Union-Tribune. "If we try to erase a little bit of hate in our corner of the world, it is our most effective route to change," he says.