You Will Never Be Forgotten

It’s hard to believe it was 15 years ago this week that most of the country and the world first heard the name, Matthew Shepard.

Today marks the 15th anniversary of his death in a Fort Collins, Colorado, hospital after being savagely and brutally beaten five nights earlier in Laramie, Wyoming.

I’m now reading “The Meaning of Matthew:  My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed” (2009) written by Matt’s mother, Judy Shepard.


In the past, I’ve written in my blog about Matthew and that horrible night that ended his life prematurely.  Today, I want to share a few things from Judy’s book that I’m reading that touched me.  (All rights reserved by Hudson Street Press)

Judy Shepard

“You know him as Matthew.  To us he was Matt.  I have tried to reconcile the two within these pages.  It would be unfair to Matt if only Matthew’s story was told.  Matt was so much more than “Matthew Shepard, the gay twenty-one-year-old University of Wyoming college student.”  He had a family and countless friends.  He had a life before the night he was tied to that fence.” (Author’s Note by Judy Shepard)

Candlelight Vigil

As candlelight vigils popped up across the country, the Shepard family spent their time focusing on their son, Matt, who was lying in a coma and would never regain consciousness.  Once the ventilator tubes were removed, Matt died in the early morning hours of Monday, October 12, 1998.

Rulon Stacey

About three hours after Matt died, Rulon Stacey, the CEO at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, informed the world that was praying for Matt that he was gone.

“At 12:53 a.m. Matthew Shepard died, his family was at his bedside… He came into the world premature and he left the world premature.  Matthew’s mother said, ‘Go home, give your kids a hug, and don’t let a day go by without telling them you love them.’  Matthew’s family is so grateful that his last words to them were, ‘I love you.'” 

Sadly, there are Matt Shepards out there right now being attacked verbally and physically every day for being gay.  Like Matt, some will die.  But, many will survive and live every day of their lives wondering how some in the world can be so cruel.

As I remember Matt and think of Judy, her husband, Dennis, and their other son, Logan, I want to share what  Judy and Dennis said about Matt in their first press conference through Stacey on October 10, 1998.

“His [Matt] one intolerance is when people don’t accept others as they are.  He has always strongly felt that all people are the same — regardless of their sexual preference, race, or religion.  We know he believes that all of us are part of the same family called humanity, and each and every one of us should treat all people with respect and dignity, and each of us has the right to live a full and rewarding life.  This is one lesson which we are very certain he would share with you, if he could.”

Matthew Shepard


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