News & Politics

Remember Matthew Shepard at Washington National Cathedral Today

December 1 would have been his 45th birthday.

Shepard's memorial service in 2018. Photograph by Evy Mages

Wednesday, December 1, would have been Matthew Shepard’s 45th birthday. Shepard was laid to rest in Washington in 2018, 20 years after his brutal murder near Laramie, Wyoming. The reason he went so long without a resting place? His family feared his grave would be desecrated.

Shepard’s remains lie in Washington National Cathedral’s crypt columbarium, a space he shares with Helen Keller and hundreds of other famous Americans. The cathedral dedicated a plaque to him in late 2019, a few months before the pandemic closed the building.

Now, with the cathedral partly open, the church has prepared a full day of programming to remember Shepard. Its St. Joseph of Arimathea Chapel, which has been closed to the public since the pandemic began, will be open until 5 PM. There, you can view Shepard’s plaque and reflect on his life. (Can’t make it in person? You can remember him online as well.) At 5:30, there will be a in-person service that can be streamed, too. The cathedral expects Shepard’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, to attend.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.