June 8, 2017

Read Openhearted's letter to the families of the Portland Heroes and visit Launch Good to donate.

To the wife and children of Ricky John Best, a Portland Hero:

This was not the first time your husband, your father defended the people of our country, I have read, as he served 23 years in the US Army. Nor was it apparently surprising that he chose to do so - it seems he was a man that always tried to stand up for what is right. When I look at his picture I see strength and compassion in his eyes. He reminds me of my own father in some ways. I respect him, and I respect what he did. I feel honored that he protected my Muslim sister(s) and horrified that he died for it. May God protect you all as he protected her.

To the mother of Taliesin Namkai-Meche, a Portland Hero:

I am a mother of three sons, so I know as only mothers can what it might be like to lose one of them. Now you know what it is actually like, and I am so, so sorry. What a brave young man he must have been. What a good heart he must have had. To read what you have said about him is to hear the joy he was in your life. May God grant you that joy always, even now.

To Micah David-Cole Fletcher, a Portland Hero:

You are the lucky one and the unlucky one. I listened to your poem, and you're smart. You feel like a friend to me, maybe partly because I get to meet you, virtually at least. Thank you for standing up for the girls on the train. You probably didn't have to think twice about it. You are just enough younger than me that I don't really understand your generation (I must be getting old). I hope that the others in it are a lot like you. May God guide you always to what is right.

To all:

I did not know you, your husband, your father, your son. They lived half a country away from me. And yet when they stood up on a train to defend a woman in hijab, they defended me too. They defended my family and my friends. They defended my children.

In fact they defended all Muslims, and more than that they defended everyone who is "different." They didn't have to do that, and it would have been easier not to. It would certainly have been less tragic not to, and maybe you even think that sometimes, that you wish they hadn't stood up to say something, even if it was the right thing.

I want you to know that what you, your husband, your father, your son did means something to me, and it means something to my community. Something we can't easily put into words but we feel strongly in our hearts. It is a mixture of gratitude and regret. What you, your husband, your father, your son did gave us dignity. It gave us humanity. It said, "You are more than what they say you are. You have value. You have worth, and you deserve to be protected." I am so grateful for this. But your husband, your father, your son died for these girls on the train, and they died for me. And this, I regret. I will carry the weight of this gratitude and regret, and I will not forget it, insha'Allah (God willing).

May God shrink the divide between us, wherever we may come from. May He grant you all peace and help you find comfort in your grief. And may He have great mercy on those we have lost.

Anna, Rebekah, Aubrey, Mariah, and the Openhearted Staff