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.
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. His ashes were interred at the cathedral Friday morning.
Shepard's parents picked the Cathedral as his final resting place because he loved the Episcopal Church and felt welcomed at one he attended in Wyoming.
"Matt loved the church. He loved the ceremony. He loved the fact that it was safe place for anyone who wanted to enter, it was a welcoming place for anyone who wanted to enter, it was a place of acceptance for anyone who wanted to enter," Shepard's father, Dennis Shepard, said during Friday's memorial service.
On Oct. 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten, tied to a fence and left to die outside Laramie, Wyoming. He died in a hospital six days later. Shepard's murder at the hands of two roofing workers who, authorities said, 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 in towns and cities across America.
A day before the service, Shepard's parents donated some of his personal items to the National Museum of American History.