Dying 93-Year-Old World War II Vet Will Inspire You to Vote

I Voted Sticker electionThis election year has Americans split practically right down the middle on a lot of issues. Most of us wouldn't think twice about taking a few minutes to sound off online about who's got our vote and why. But are you going to be one who blows off your vote on Nov. 6? One poll says almost one third of Americans may not vote this year, and their "reasons" (i.e. excuses) range from "I'm too busy" to "Nothing gets done anyway."

When it comes to excuses, World War II vet Frank Tanabe has more than most. He could say he's too ill. (He has an inoperable tumor in his liver.) He could say he's too old. (He's 93.) He could say he likely won't live to see his candidate make any changes anyway. But he's saying none of this. In fact, despite being on his death bed, Tanabe is so determined to vote that he anxiously awaited his absentee ballot.


America hasn't always treated Tanabe right -- he was pulled out of college and put into a Japanese-American internment camp at the start of the war. But he volunteered to join the Army. As his grandson, Noah, said:

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.

His daughter, Barbara, who is taking care of him in his final days, says that discrimination was part of his determination prove himself by going to war and fighting for our country -- and that discrimation has made him feel even more that the right to vote is a "precious" one.

Tanabe is now under hospice care in Barbara's home in Hawaii. When his early ballot came, Barbara read all of the nominees to him and marked down his choices (yes, even when she didn't agree with him.) His grandson then posted a picture of him voting on social site Reddit, and the pic has been viewed more than half a million times.

Barbara said her father would be mystified by the online interest in him, but thrilled if it encouraged others to vote. So, in case you're thinking of skipping voting day -- and it's not always easy to get to the polls, especially if you're working or can't find child care -- think of Frank Tanabe. If he can do it, so can you.

Are you going to vote? What do you think of Frank?

Image via Vox Efx/Flickr

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