Today at noon a moment of silence was held for those who gave their lives defending two teenage girls from a vicious attack.

A week ago today, Jeremy Christian killed two men and injured one other on a MAX train in Portland. Christian had been spewing hateful, anti-muslim words at two young women–one wearing a hijab.

Three men–Rick Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, and Micha Fletcher–had stepped forward in defense of the women and were attacked by Christian.  The assailant pulled a knife on the three victims, slashing them each in the neck.  Best died on the scene and Namkai Meche died later in a hospital.  Fletcher survived the attack and is recovering from his wound.  The two girls escaped without any physical harm.

Today the victims were honored as heroes for their sacrifice to defend the lives of two others.  All MAX buses and trains were halted and Governor Kate Brown ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of these men.

Last week’s attack garnered national attention not just because of the heroism of these men but because of the hate speech that caused the victims to come to the defense of the young women in the first place.  The President of the Muslim Educational Trust in Tigard commented that, “For [the two women] as a new immigrant family, it brings for them a lot of memories of violence and war and the reason they’re here.”

Through their actions and deaths, the heroism of the MAX attack victims sent a powerful message against hate and in defense of life.

Zach is a Philosophy and Economics double major at George Fox University. Originally from Wenatchee, WA, Zach moved to the Portland metro area for school.