Memorial at the site where Matthew Shepard was beaten.
Flowers and a cross left at the site where Matthew Shepard was beaten and left for dead. Reuters

It has been 13 years since the death of Matthew Shepard, but he has not been forgotten.

Shepard was a 21-year-old college student when he was tied to a fence in a remote area, beaten and left for dead. A man riding his bicycle came upon what he thought was a scarecrow. It was Shepard, and he was in a coma. He would later die in a hospital.

But his memory lives on.

Many people took to Twitter to commemorate the day of Shepard's death.

RIP Matthew Shepard. 13th Anniversary of his death... So sad, one person tweeted.

Tweeted another: Thinking of Matthew Shepard; how far we've come in 13 yrs; & how far we've yet to go. Keep spreading love & light.

Across the country, there are plans for screenings and showings of the film and play versions of The Laramie Project.

There are also plans for memorial services. Students at Ball State University in Indiana, for example, will hold a memorial service for Shepard and others who have been discriminated against due to their sexual orientation.

We will have a candlelight vigil around the Quad and have people tell stories of times they felt bullied or harassed, basically just have a discussion about bullying, student J.P. Bechtel, who organized the event, told the student newspaper The Ball State Daily News.

Judy Shepard, Shepard's mother and co-founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, wrote about the anniversary of her son's death and what she has seen in her advocacy.

The coming out stories that young people tell me, slowly, almost imperceptibly, got better, she wrote in The Huffington Post. More and more, the story ends not with a young person being turned out of the house, but affirmed, and accepted, lovingly. Every time I speak at a college somewhere in America, I am hoping I will hear another one like that.

Jason Marsden, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, spoke of Shepard and the foundation's work to IB Times.

People are sort of reminded as the calendar turns to October 12, he said.

Marsden met Shepard at a party in 1996. He described Shepard as a worldly person who was interested in international issues, particularly the plight of women in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, long before it was even a topic of discussion in the U.S.

He was very interested in politics and the media, Marsden said. He actually had a really wide range of interests in human rights and civil rights that went beyond LGBT issues.

Marsden noted that while society has come a long way in terms of LGBT rights, such as the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, there is still a long way to go. Hate crimes, he said, continue at a stubborn pace.

We reflect on how things change and it's kind of a mixed picture right now, he said.

Jesús Reyna of Miami remembers hearing about Shepard's death and how it affected so many.

He was not the first gay man to have died at the hands of hatred but he was certainly one of the few who left an indelible mark on the hearts of all people gay or straight, black or white, male or female, Reyna told IB Times. His unnecessary passing I think forever changed the consciousness of our society as a whole by forcing the public at large to take a good, long hard look at why such a thing came to pass.

Monroe France was in graduate school, studying to work in higher education, when he heard about the college student's death.

It really touched so many of us, France told IB Times.

Shepard's death motivated France even more to pursue his life's work in helping to make college campuses better, more accepting places for students. Today, he is the director of New York University's LGBTQ Student Center.

He noted the importance of teaching kids acceptance at a young age.

It starts off as name calling and then it grows from there, he said. But it's also never too late.