An Army veteran, a recent college graduate and a student who once won a poetry contest by condemning prejudice stirred up by the Sept. 11 attacks intervened as a man screamed anti-Muslim insults at two women in Portland on Friday.

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An Army veteran, a recent college graduate and a student who once won a poetry contest by condemning prejudice stirred up by the Sept. 11 attacks intervened as a man screamed anti-Muslim insults at two women in Portland on Friday.

In the days that followed, the three men were hailed as heroes.

Two of the men — Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Rick Best, 53 — died in the attack on a commuter train. The third, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, was treated Saturday for injuries that police said were serious but not life-threatening.

Jeremy Christian, 35, of North Portland, was held in the attack and is to be arraigned Tuesday.

Attack in Portland

About 1,000 people gathered Saturday night at a vigil to honor the men who intervened, according to The Oregonian.

“They didn’t have capes,” Ellie Eaton, a local activist, said at the event, according to the newspaper. “They were just human beings that we all have the capacity to be like.”

Ted Wheeler, Portland’s mayor, said in a statement that two men “lost their lives and another was injured for doing the right thing, standing up for people they didn’t know against hatred.

“Their actions were brave and selfless, and should serve as an example and inspiration to us all,” Wheeler said. “They are heroes.”

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. and the first Muslim elected to Congress, said in a statement that the three men “exhibited the best qualities of American heroes.”

“Let us strive to be as brave and as compassionate as them,” Ellison said.

Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche

Meche worked for the Cadmus Group, a consulting firm, after graduating with an economics degree from Reed College in 2016. Among his classes was an introductory course about Islam, where he distinguished himself as a memorable student, the professor, Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, said.

“I still remember where he sat in conference and the types of probing, intelligent questions I could anticipate him asking,” GhaneaBassiri said in a statement. “He was thoughtful, humble, smart, inquisitive and compassionate. He was a wonderful human being. As good as they come.”

Meche’s family recalled him as living “a joyous and full life” with infectious enthusiasm, according to The Oregonian.

“He was a hero and will remain a hero on the other side of the veil,” his mother, Asha Deliverance, wrote in a Facebook post that had been shared more than 130,000 times as of Sunday morning. “Shining bright star I love you forever.”

Meche’s sister, Aurora Dachen, said on Facebook her “heart feels empty” not only because of the loss of her brother, but because of “the cruel awakening that hate & judgment can cause someone to do such a thing.”

“I am so proud to be able to call someone so brave and strong my big brother,” she wrote.

In a statement, Meche’s family said “in honor of his memory, we use this tragedy as an opportunity for reflection and change. We choose love.”

Rick Best

Best retired from the Army in 2012 as a platoon sergeant after 23 years of service that included tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He met his wife at Portland Community College and had three teenage sons and a 12-year-old daughter, according to The Oregonian.

He worked as a technician for the city, according to The Oregonian. His supervisor, Kareen Perkins, told the newspaper, “He was always the first person you would go to for help.”

“I’ve talked to most of his co-workers today, and several of them said it’s just like Rick to step in and help somebody out,” Perkins said.

Chloe Eudaly, a Portland commissioner, said Best worked for the city for more than two years and was “a valued member of our Bureau of Development Services team.”

“And as a veteran, he served our country with honor and distinction,” she said. “He stood up for two young women and others he didn’t even know — all because he wanted to help.”

In 2014, Best ran for a seat on the Board of Commissioners in nearby Clackamas County, where he lived with his family in the city of Happy Valley. According to a profile in The Oregonian, he refused to accept campaign donations.

A year after moving to the area, he became fed up with local politics. A friend suggested that maybe he should not just complain, but take action and run for office.

“I can’t stand by and do nothing,” Best said, according to the newspaper.

Micah David-Cole Fletcher

Fletcher, a student at Portland State University, was expected to be hospitalized for a few more days, according to The Oregonian. His girlfriend told the newspaper that he had undergone two hours of surgery to remove bone fragments from his throat.

His mother, Margie Fletcher, told KATU-TV that the knife had missed a jugular vein by a millimeter and that he was in “really bad condition.”

“I’m proud of him for standing up,” she said. “I’m grateful that he’s here. It’s hard for me to say I want people to stand up, but two girls might be alive because of them.”

Fletcher won a poetry contest in 2013 when he was a junior in high school. He condemned the prejudice he saw Muslims encountering.

“I just hope that people are listening and try to do something about it,” he told The Oregonian in 2013.