Monday, October 22, 2012

Photo of WWII veteran casting vote captures hearts

Irene Tanabe  /  AP
In this Oct. 17, 2012 photo provided by Irene Tanabe, Frank Tanabe, center, gets help from his daughter Barbara Tanabe, left, to fill out his absentee ballot in Honolulu while his wife Setsuko Tanabe sits in the foreground. The photo of the 93-year-old World War II veteran casting what will likely be his last ballot has captured the hearts of tens of thousands of Internet users. (AP Photo/Irene Tanabe)
updated 10/22/2012 4:04:10 AM ET

HONOLULU — A photograph of a 93-year-old World War II veteran casting what will likely be his last ballot has captured the hearts of tens of thousands of Internet users.

The photo shows Frank Tanabe lying in a hospital bed at home as his daughter Barbara Tanabe helps him fill out his absentee ballot. A half-million people saw the picture on the website Reddit after his grandson posted it there on Thursday, making it one of the most popular items on the social media network for a day after.

"True Patriotism," was the top rated comment on the post. "This is America. Amen," was next, followed by "Thank you, Citizen."

Doctors diagnosed Tanabe with an inoperable cancer tumor in his liver two months ago. He's been in hospice care for the past three weeks at his daughter's home. His condition has been deteriorating, and he's been speaking little lately.

He's been determined to vote regardless, eagerly asking when the ballot would be arriving in the mail, his daughter said. She kept telling him, "don't worry, it's coming." He filled it out immediately when it landed in the mailbox on Wednesday.

Barbara Tanabe read aloud the names of the candidates to her dad. He either nodded "yes" to the names or shook his head "no." She filled in the boxes on his behalf, following his instructions even when he didn't pick the people she wanted.

"There were some that were OK, but there were others where I said, 'Dad, are you sure?'" she said.

Tanabe volunteered to join the Army from behind barbed wire at the Tule Lake internment camp in California. He was pulled out of college at the University of Washington and taken to the camp when President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered 110,000 Japanese-Americans detained and isolated after the start of the war with Japan.But he knew what he was doing. He's kept up on the issues, reading newspapers regularly until only recently, she said.

The Army assigned Tanabe to the Military Intelligence Service, a classified unit whose members were collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal last year along with soldiers who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team — highly decorated segregated units of mostly Japanese-Americans.

"I'd like to accept on behalf of all hyphenated Americans, including American-Americans," Tanabe told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser at the time. "We all served together in defense of our country."

Noah Tanabe, the grandson who posted the photo online, said he thinks about his grandfather every time he votes.

"It's hard to imagine - after his family business is torched, his family imprisoned, and denied the opportunity to finish his college education - he volunteered to serve. I don't know if I would have done the same thing, but we are all very proud of him," he said.

The family has been surprised and gratified by the online comments on the photo, Barbara Tanabe said.

"I think he feels like joining the Army, going to the camp, fighting in the war, and fighting discrimination — these were all things he did so that we have this precious right to vote," she said. "For so many people to express their heartfelt tribute to my father was really, really heartwarming for us."

Several Reddit commentators asked whether Tanabe's vote would be counted if he passed away before Election Day on Nov. 6.

Glenn Takahashi, Honolulu election administrator, said absentee ballots cast by voters who later die become invalid if the state Department of Health notifies elections officials of the death before Election Day. To void a ballot when that happens, officials have to be able to sort through tens of thousands of ballots to find the one in question. This is not always practical, and so the ballot is counted if it isn't.

A similar situation arose in Honolulu four years ago when President Barack Obama's grandmother died two nights before the election but after she mailed her absentee ballot. Hawaii counted her vote anyway because the Health Department didn't receive her certificate of death before the election.

Barbara Tanabe said her father, a quiet, unassuming man, would wonder what the fuss over the photo was about. 

But he'd be thrilled it encouraged others to vote, she said.

"That would be the ultimate honor for him," she said.

Some inspiring stories about Veterans 

Hatboro WWII vet celebrates 104th birthday today

Updated 7 hours ago
Bill Mohr survived treacherous beachhead invasions during World War II and helped liberate the Dachau concentration camp in Germany, but his thoughts were of a much happier nature on Sunday. That’s when his home filled with family, friends and well ...

Volunteers Rebuild WWII Veteran's Home Before Winter

Updated 10:17 p.m. ET, Fri., Oct . 19, 2012
Duluth, MN (Northland’s NewsCenter) --- A Northland World War II veteran is getting his house and yard fixed up after extensive water damage from June's flood. Dozens of volunteers took time off work and spent the day in the dirt. It’s a service ...

Volunteers Teams Up For WWII Veteran, Joe Gomer

Updated 11:41 p.m. ET, Sat., Oct . 20, 2012
Duluth, MN (Northland's Newscenter) - Saturday is day two of a service project aimed at helping an American hero that served our nation as a Tuskegee Airman in WWII. Dozens of community volunteers, veterans and active military members teamed up to fix 92 ...

Fall 2012 Honor Flight Takes 70 WWII Vets to Memorial ( w/ Picture Gallery)

Updated 3:14 p.m. ET, Fri., Oct . 19, 2012
Washinton D.C., ( - 70 World War II veterans from northeast Indiana visited the WWIIMemorial in Washington D.C. Wednesday. It’s a one day trip Honor Flight Northeast Indiana hosts twice a year. The veterans leave from the 122nd Fighter ...

WWII Veteran to Get Home Repairs, Community Help Needed

Updated 3:14 p.m. ET, Fri., Oct . 19, 2012
DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - A Northland Hero is getting his house and yard fixed-up after water damage, but project organizers are asking for the community's help to get the job done. Ninety-two-year-old World War Two Veteran Joe Gomer ended up ...

FLYING TIGER: WWII Plane Added To Museum

Updated 10:16 a.m. ET, Wed., Oct . 17, 2012
A piece of World War II history is being installed at the Iowa Gold Star Museum Wednesday. Complete with lights and sound effects, workers have been busy preparing a display of a Curtiss P-40 B Tomahawk — part of the World War II Flying Tigers.

Honor Flight South Carolina took more than 80 WWII veterans to Washington, DC to see theWWII Memorial

Updated 2:19 a.m. ET, Mon., Oct . 15, 2012
Charleston — Honor Flight South Carolina took more than 80 WWII veterans to Washington, DC to see the WWII Memorial. This flight was paid for by the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina. While in Washington, the veterans visited the WWII ...

67 years later, Pa. WWII veteran gets 9 medals

Updated 10:18 p.m. ET, Fri., Oct . 12, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Pa. (AP) - An 86-year-old military veteran from suburban Philadelphia has belatedly received several medals earned for his service in World War II. The Bronze Star and Purple Heart were among the nine medals awarded to Montraville ...

Remains of WWII Wisconsin Army pilot finally brought home

Updated 7:33 p.m. ET, Fri., Oct . 12, 2012
GREEN BAY- The remains of Army pilot Lt. James Des Jardins are back home Friday night after an absence of 68 years. Des Jardins was shot down by German bombers while he completed a run. The Wisconsin man's body or his plane were never found.Des ...

No comments:

Post a Comment