Wednesday, October 12, 2011

13 Years Ago • Matthew Shepard

Matthew Shepard

Thirteen years ago, a young man lost his life because a group of children grew up with no respect for life. A mother can no longer hold her son because other parents failed to teach their children The Golden Rule from the book they claim to hold so dear; "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." A young adult will not celebrate his 22nd birthday because two young adults thought torture was acceptable in this country. A mother and a father will never be able to see their son celebrate a new-found love because a few people decided to celebrate hate on a dark and lonely road in Laramie, Wyoming.

Matthew Shepard fence

Certainly this cannot happen in this country, a land that celebrates the the rights of the individual, that holds the Bill of Rights so dear? In the very same country that saw such division, such violence just thirty-some years earlier in the wake of the civil right struggle of some American citizens, you'd think the people would have grown more than that, don't you?

Matthew Shepard

13 years after a young man was discovered tied to a fence, his body bloodied and beaten, all because he was a little different than his attackers. Attackers who identified the young man by the love he felt, rather than the man he was. They felt the need to answer love with the hate that grew deep within them. Hate that allowed a group of supposed 'religious' congregation to disrupt the grieving of a loving family when they picket at funeral. Hate that allows a group of Presidential candidates to make their bigotry and hate a cornerstone of their candidacy. Hate that allows people to think voting to discriminate against fellow citizens is acceptable. Hate that can be found on the streets, in the workplace, and in the schoolyards in this country, even today. Thirteen years after the beating of Matthew Shepard, 43 years after the shooting of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and 47 years following the lynching of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, you'd hope there would be no need for Garrin Benfield to write a song like this...

Yet there is. So we will not forget Matthew Shepard. We will not forget those who just said "no" at Stonewall. We will not forget the kids who are battered, both physically and emotionally, every day until they believe there is no life worth living. We will not forget the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trangendered people who were not safe on the streets of their own communities.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) Third president of the United States.


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