Dying man casts final vote
October 22nd, 2012
06:17 PM ET
2 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. ApplaudResponsbility

    A fine example of civic duty and great character that a whole lot more folks should be emulating. Thank you for an exemplary American.

    October 23, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  2. Abouttime

    "A fine example of civic duty and great character that a whole lot more folks should be emulating. Thank you for an exemplary American." Hear, hear.

    October 23, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  3. Al

    An example of the simplicity of freedom and democracy this country and why this country is seen as an outlook of hope for other nations. Regards and respect to a patriot and citizen of this great nation.

    October 23, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  4. scranton

    What a great American.

    October 23, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  5. Already Been Chewed

    It was a pleasure to read this article. Speed well sir.

    October 23, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  6. Romney to Obama: You sank my battleship!

    Salvo!

    October 23, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  7. hartford

    voting do matter to our past & present generation.

    October 23, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  8. Obama's Salvo

    I agree with the President....

    Need I say more?

    October 23, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  9. Kate

    Mr. Tanabe, you are an inspiration.

    October 23, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  10. Just Flip a Coin!

    If you haven't decided by now who you'll vote for, flip a friggin' coin! Geeze.....

    October 23, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  11. Rmoney

    Rmoney: I've got that right.

    October 23, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  12. Curt

    Call me a cynic but the guys eyes are closed and it looks like they have the ballot propped up in his hands. Also, they claim he couldn't speak afterwards which I find to be further damning. If they did make his choices for him when he's dying I find it sick!. Its obvious they did it for publicity or they wouldn't have made such a public statement about it. I also find it unfair that someone chooses our fate when they aren't going to be around to suffer the consequence of their choice.

    October 23, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  13. Flipity Flop. Flipity Flop

    There he goes again... Flipity Flop.

    October 23, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  14. GI Joe

    Mitt wrote love letters to Ann from a beach in France during Viet Nam.

    Kinda different, isn't he? I'm not a catholic, and I'm not a mormon.

    I voted for the CHRISTIAN, OBAMA 2012.

    October 23, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  15. He Rocks!

    Good for him!

    October 23, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  16. Hannah

    Who did he vote for?

    October 23, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  17. Joe

    Come to Chicago sir. You're right to vote Democratic will never be taken away even after death!

    October 23, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  18. Corwin7

    One more vote for Obama 2012

    October 23, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  19. Critical Thinking

    Great story and to think some americans throw away their vote for the promise of a cell phone..so very sad.

    October 23, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  20. Veteran

    Mr Tanabe more than earned his right to vote.

    But his vote is at risk of being made meaningless by fraudulent votes cast by illegal aliens and disenfranchised felons.

    Votes cast because of Democrats' opposition to Voter ID laws that protect Mr Tanabe's right to vote and ensure that his vote isn't cancelled by a dozen from bogus ACORN-registered phony voters.

    October 23, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  21. Al

    Im so glad this man was able to vote for Gov. Romney, shows even he understood that change needs to happen.....

    October 23, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  22. richunix

    From part of a speech I was require to give: “and the people of a grateful nation”. My final salute to you from one soldier to another, we are home and “This well defend”

    October 23, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  23. Lou

    Great story, but if he dies before Nov 6th, his vote should not count.

    October 23, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  24. jeremy

    This is a great guy!

    October 23, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  25. Manuel J.

    Folks, keep the political crap off this blog. The story is about Mr. Tanabe's patriotism and exercising his right to vote. He and his family kept their vote selections private... the best way to honor this man is to vote and keep your selections private.

    Tanabe-san,
    Thank you for your service and, instilling patriotism on your children and on your fellow countrymen.

    U.S. Army Vet
    1st ID

    October 23, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
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