Monday night was a night not unlike last Thursday.
The temperature cooled quickly, leaving many in short sleeves to rub their arms for warmth. And once again, headlights and police lights illuminated the night, as helicopters buzzed overhead. News vans rolled into normally quiet Plymouth Township, and neighbors gathered outside their homes.
Except this time, those police lights weren't frantic and foreboding, but reassuring. And the big story of the night wasn't the tragic death of Officer Bradley Fox, but the unison of a community to honor him. And instead of the cool breeze carrying hushed whispers and shivers, it was overwhelmed by the roar of hundreds of motorcycles, whose engines warmed all of those outside the Plymouth Township building.
"We use the word hero loosely in society today, but when you look in the dictionary there's a picture of Brad Fox, right there-- a true American hero," said Sheldon Simpson, surrounded by residents and members of the Warriors Watch Motorcycle Club, who rode from the Philadelphia Police Academy in northeast Philadelphia.
A thousand American flags, donated by Valley Forge-based non-profit America Responds With Love, lined the roadways and parking lot. The staffs of the flags alternated blue and tan, symbolic of military and civilian service, honoring Fox's two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine and seven years of service at the Plymouth Police Department.
Fox's family, including expectant wife Lynsay, sat just feet away from Simpson as he spoke. They were surrounded by a wall of police officers from various departments, a symbolic gesture in front of the crowd.
"They've been through difficult times, but they wanted to be here to see this," Simpson said. "I think they're overwhelmed by the support of the community who came out to do this… and our thoughts and prayers go to Brad's wife and his family, to get them through these next few days, which are going to be more difficult than ever."
And the coming days surely will be trying for the Fox family, as they say their final goodbyes to a man who dedicated his life to not only protecting them, but also his community and country. But if there's one thing the Fox family now knows, it's that the community Bradley Fox so selflessly served is ready to return the favor.