Paralyzed police officer stands for National Anthem in viral photo

Officer William Weigt of the Peoria Police Department in Arizona stood for the National Anthem for the first time since he was paralyzed in 2005. (Photo: Facebook/Peoria Police Department)

A paralyzed police officer stood for the National Anthem, a goal 14 years in the making, during the Special Olympics in Arizona.

Officer William Weigt has been using a wheelchair since 2005, when he was shot in the line of duty. After a year of recovery, the 44-year-old former U.S. Army member rejoined the Peoria Police Department in Arizona as an Honor Guard member investigator, a job specifically created for him to continue serving his community.

On Friday, Weigt and his fellow officers graced the opening ceremonies for the Special Olympics Arizona Fall Games to present the American flag. But Weigt had a trick up his sleeve, and a surprise for Tiffanie, his wife of two years and their children. He planned to stand during the National Anthem using a specialized mode of transportation, the Permobil F5 power chair. “Being an Army veteran and not able to stand, it was a good moment,” Weigt tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Weigt uses the chair often to reach objects in high places, to help his range of motion and blood circulation, and even on a recent family to Disneyland. But he has never used it to stand during the National Anthem, until now.

Over the weekend, the Peoria Police Department shared a photo and a video of Weigt’s accomplishment, holding the American flag with one hand and the chair’s controller in the other.

“I was standing, in total, for about 45 minutes,” Weigt tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “because we were going through a lot of dry runs to make sure we got it right.”

Afterward, Weigt drove himself home, exhausted and exhilarated, telling Yahoo Lifestyle, “It was well worth it.”

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