OPELIKA, Ala. (WSFA) - Neighbors of a fallen east Alabama police officer are quite literally refusing to let the sun go down on his memory.
When night draws its blanket of darkness across the mourning Opelika subdivision that Auburn police officer William Buechner shared with his family, you can see the signs of solidarity.
Many homes have replaced their regular porch lights with blue lights, a symbol of law enforcement, shining in Buechner’s memory.
“William was a lot of great things. A great man, friend, husband, and father, police officer, neighbor, the list goes on,” neighbor Samantha Xaysombath Smith explained. “His son will grow up to learn that his daddy was a hero, and we will forever remember that he was our hero too.”
Neighbor Tracy McDaniel is among those residents doing what they can to pay tribute to the officer.
And McDaniels’ home is not alone.
One neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, said she was aware of at least 15 homes participating but expected that number to increase.
“We all have rallied to find each other more lightbulbs,” the woman said, “and contact those who have been out of town or may need assistance reaching their fixtures. It’s been a true team effort."
The lights are expected to remain on at least through Saturday, the day after Officer Buechner’s funeral.
Buechner is survived by his wife of three years, Sara Buechner; son, Henry, and step-daughter, Mckenna.
“This village we speak of, he knows we will take care of Sara and the family,” Smith said. “After all, it does take a village. We back the blue.”
Memorials to Officer Buechner extend beyond his neighborhood.
The New York Yankees sent flowers to the Auburn Police Department to honor him, something they do every time they learn of a fallen officer or first responder. The flowers can be seen in the lobby of the police department on North Ross Street.
The included card reads “With our deepest sympathies, our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Buechner family and the family of the Auburn Police Department - The New York Yankees”
And Philadelphia-based artist Jonny Castro, a forensic composite artist and U.S. Army combat veteran, paints portraits of heroes killed in the line of duty as part of his Portraits of Valor project.
Castro says he does the pieces free of charge for family members and those who worked beside the fallen officers.