Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Shephard of the hills

The Shepherd of the Hills is a book written in 1907 by author Harold Bell Wright and illustrated by Frank G. Cootes. It depicts a mostly fictional story of mountain folklore and forgiveness, and has been translated into seven languages since its release. If you read the plot summary at the link below, it almost feels like a modern version of Romeo and Juliet.

The novel has been the basis for four films, the first in 1919, and a television movie. The best-known version is the 1941 film of the same name starring Harry Carey and John Wayne. 
The Shepherd of the Hills was a popular outdoor drama staged from May to October, from 1960 until what was initially announced as its final performance on October 19, 2013, in Branson, Missouri. However, the play was brought back the next year with a reduced performance schedule beginning on May 23, 2014. The outdoor play features more than eighty actors, forty horses, and an actual nightly burning of the cabin.

The link below is the official website of the current operation:

To be accurate, you would have to say that “the shepherd of the hills” has a happy ending, but there is ANOTHER “Shepard of the hills” story that doesn’t.

Matthew  Shepard was an American student at the University of Wyoming who was beaten, tortured, and left to die in the nearby town of Laramie (elevation 7165) on the night of October 6, 1998. He died on October 12, almost exactly 20 years ago. Perpetrators Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney were arrested shortly after the attack, and charged with first degree murder. Each of them received two consecutive life sentences.

At the time of Matthew Shepard’s death, crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation were not prosecutable as hate crimes.
On March 20, 2007, the Matthew Shepard Act (H.R. 1592) was introduced as federal bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Congress, sponsored by Democrat John Conyers with 171 co-sponsors. Shepard's parents attended the introduction ceremony. The bill passed the House of Representatives on May 3, 2007. Similar legislation passed in the Senate on September 27, 2007 (S. 1105), however then-President George W. Bush indicated he would veto the legislation if it reached his desk. The Democratic leadership dropped the amendment in response to opposition from conservative groups and Bush, and because the measure was attached to a defense bill there was a lack of support from antiwar Democrats.
On December 10, 2007, congressional powers attached bipartisan hate crimes legislation to a Department of Defense Authorization bill, although it failed to pass. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, said she was "still committed to getting the Matthew Shepard Act passed". Pelosi planned to get the bill passed in early 2008, although she did not succeed. Following his election as President, Barack Obama stated that he was committed to passing the Act.
The U.S. House of Representatives debated expansion of hate crimes legislation on April 29, 2009. During the debate, Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina called the "hate crime" labeling of Shepard's murder a "hoax". Foxx later called her comments "a poor choice of words
The House passed the act, designated H.R. 1913, by a vote of 249 to 175. Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy, and a bipartisan coalition introduced the bill in the Senate on April 28,and  it had 43 cosponsors as of June 17, 2009. The Matthew Shepard Act was adopted as an amendment to S.1390 by a vote of 63–28 on July 15, 2009.
On October 22, 2009, the Senate passed the act by a vote of 68–29. President Obama signed the measure into law on October 28, 2009.
Shepard's murder brought national and international attention to hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels.  Following her son's murder, Judy Shepard became a prominent LGBT rights activist and established the Matthew Shepard Foundation

Shepard's death inspired notable films, novels, plays, songs, and other works.
Matthew Shepard’s story does not have a happy ending, but in a way, it does.

Much as other tragic events (such as the murder of Emmett till in 1955) ultimately resulted in legislation that protected vulnerable victims, his death paved the way for legislation that added further protect to individuals who have a “non- traditional” sexual orientation,

In July,2012, the SF Gay Men’s Choir performed in Laramie, Wyoming to benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and honor the memory of Matthew Shepard, whose tragedy transformed the world:

In August of this year, our country bore witness to John McCain’s passing, and his three funeral ceremonies. The last one was held at the Washington National Cathedral, and two of men that defeated him for office (George W. Bush and Barack Obama) paid tribute to him.

This month, it’s Matthew Shepard’s turn to be honored.

Just a few days ago, it was announced that Matthew Shepard’s ashes ill be interred at the Washington National Cathedral, which will make him one of 300 people (including Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller) who are also interred there.

Somehow, that just seems like the right thing to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment