Dying man casts final vote
October 22nd, 2012
06:17 PM ET
5 years ago

Dying man casts final vote

(CNN) - A photo of World War II veteran Frank Tanabe casting what will likely be his final ballot in a presidential election has gone viral –and captured the hearts of thousands.

Tanabe, 93, is in the final stages of inoperable liver cancer and is currently at home receiving hospice care, surrounded by his wife and children in Honolulu.

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He has always been a true patriot, his daughters said. In 2010 he was among a group of Japanese-Americans who were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal as part of the Military Intelligence Service Unit during World War II.

Originally from the Seattle area, Tanabe enrolled at the University of Washington during World War II but was forced to drop out when he and the rest of his family were placed in internment camps for the Japanese in the U.S. From there, Tanabe volunteered for the U.S. Army, knowing that Japanese-English translators were in need. His family members remained in the camp while he served.

According to his daughters, Frank has never missed a presidential election, and wasn't about to let his illness deter him from voting this time around.

When his absentee ballot arrived on Wednesday, his daughter, Barbara, sat at his bedside and read aloud the candidates and issues.

"I helped him. He either nodded 'yes' or shook his head 'no'," Barbara said. "He didn't always vote for my candidate."

Nonetheless, she followed his directions and mailed in the completed form. He hasn't been able to speak since.

Irene, Frank's other daughter, knew that she was witnessing a rare moment and snapped a picture of the event. She first posted it on Facebook, then her 26-year-old son, Noah, lifted it and posted it on the link sharing site Reddit. From there, it went viral. Irene said news organizations in the U.S. and other countries have picked up interest in the photo and their story.

Barbara said that she has been telling her dad about all of the internet "buzz" and is sure he is "thrilled about it"

"He is very patriotic, very proud," she said, adding that her father instilled a similar sense of appreciation to his children.

"He always told us it was very important to vote, because he saw his comrades in arms fight and die for American rights," she said.

Among those, she added, was the right to vote.

Filed under: 2012 • Hawaii
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. 1twinsfan

    One final act of patriotism should be saluted. Job well done, sir.

    October 22, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  2. kim000

    Great story.People could learn from his example.Glad he got the chance to vote once more.

    October 22, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  3. Darlene

    Listen people if this brave man can manage to do his patriotic duty and vote there is no reason for any of us not to. People need to realize that this effects your life whether you vote or not. Have a say in what your future holds instead of letting a group of rich old men. Our vote is more priceless than all of their wealth combined...but only if we VOTE!

    October 22, 2012 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. debra minor

    i love the story and may god bless your father and family

    October 22, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  5. Steve Smith

    This man is a true hero.

    October 22, 2012 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  6. Porkyfrog

    You are my hero!!!

    October 22, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  7. Pete

    God bless Mr Tanabe,a man of strong conviction and a patriot as well..Take care of him and may his last moments be good ones with family and friends at his side.Patriots like him will be sorely missed!!Again God Bless!!

    October 22, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  8. sayer

    Good for you, Frank.

    October 22, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  9. The right to vote is cherished!

    The right to vote is cherished!

    October 22, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  10. Dan B

    Makes you think. God bless Frank

    October 22, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  11. nina

    what a beautiful story...God bless this man and his family!

    October 22, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  12. 2020

    To us, you are a hero, love of your country. thank you for your service.

    To God, you are a good son.

    October 22, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  13. Romney Hood's a FRAUD

    This is why men/women in uniform gladly risk their lives for this country. GOP should be ashamed of themselves for trying to suppress the vote! That is un-American and a slap in the face of our veterans and their families. Semper Fi, Mr. Tanabe!!

    October 22, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  14. incredulous

    Great story.

    October 22, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  15. Hotdog

    For any one that have decided not to vote in this election, shame on you! My heart goes out to this veteran and his family.

    October 22, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  16. Brian Hartman

    Now, I don't want to hear any excuses about voting being inconvenient and/or pointless. If this war hero, on his deathbed, can cast a vote, you can, too!

    October 23, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  17. NameDavid Ravalier

    I think the president is the right man to lead the world and this nation of America this man has a kool head and not a warmongar freak!!!

    October 23, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  18. Jerry

    Obama 2012!

    October 23, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  19. Alina77

    What a nice man....true hero. People that don't vote should be ashamed of themselves....

    October 23, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  20. Ken

    Mr Tanabe,

    Thank you for all that you have done for our country. I try to live up to the standards that people like you and my grandfather , a WWII fighter pilot, have lived. Your family should be very proud of you. Voting is an honor that is earned.

    October 23, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  21. Ry

    He fought for the right to vote, and he knew how important it was. Mister Tanabe is an example of what makes America great. God bless him.

    No matter who you plan to vote for, or who he voted for, he should be an inspiration.

    October 23, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  22. ted

    ...and he didn't leave a hanging Chad?

    October 23, 2012 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  23. Bob

    I am so glad this is not the issue for this patriot but in Ohio the latest atrocity by republicans is an attempt to NOT COUNT votes of absentee or early voters in the event of their death before election day. Medina county is the battleground for this latest attempt to stifle votes.

    October 23, 2012 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  24. Mary

    God bless and keep you Sir.

    October 23, 2012 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  25. marianna68

    As a soldier myself this story touches my heart. There is NO reason not to get out and vote. Make a difference!

    October 23, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
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