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

    Mr Tanabe thank you for your service. To his family, thank you for sharing your father's story. We need to be reminded of the honor and duty we have in voting, you've done a wonderful job in making that happen.

    October 23, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  2. Brian

    It's sad that there are a lot of people in America that don't take voting seriously. I'm glad that this story showed the other side of the coin and I share his sentiments.

    October 23, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  3. stutzman

    The guy is ready to croak and wont be here to see the results of his actions so what does he care as to who he votes for?

    October 23, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  4. Kris

    I know...I started out reading this story to find out who he voted for but by the end, I didn't care. I wish him Peace.

    October 23, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  5. Really?

    Stutzman, read the last three sentences of the the story again.
    Sometimes, it is not always about "what's in it for me".

    October 23, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  6. dirk

    waste of time

    October 23, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. Ted van Tol

    mr. Stutzman,

    A very respectles reaction is comming from you. I honor the old sick man and
    I am sorry that an healthy person like you dont understand his statement.

    October 23, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  8. Sophie

    It does not matter whom, he voted for, it was very clear he loved America, and we love him back, for his sacrifice to
    this country. When you read a post like this it should bring a tear of thanks to your eye, not vengence in your heart. Do
    as he did and vote for which party you think has the best interest for the U.S. A. and then of course may God Bless
    us everyone. Do your part.

    October 23, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  9. Butterfly

    Stutzman, the old gentleman has a family–probably grand children, He cares about their future after he is gone. With your pathetic attitude, I pray that you DON'T sire any children!

    October 23, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  10. Butterfly

    Stutzman, the old gentleman has a family and perhaps, grand children. He wants to vote because every vote DOES count, and he is thinking of the future of his family, as well as his right as an American. And you, I must say, do not sound like a patriotic American, and God forbid that you have or will sire any children, for obvious reasons!

    October 23, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  11. true blue

    So, explain too me Romney ask for Eight / Ten years to balance the budget if he's elected, but we can't give this president his years to complete, we are headed in the right direction. to give this over to the bush policies again we or dumb Americans. 2012 Obama/Biden

    October 23, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
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