A former WWII internee in hospice sets an example for family members by voting

The Idaho StatesmanOctober 24, 2012 

Last Vote

Oct. 17, 2012 - 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.


Nic Kawaguchi of Boise has his own model of patriotism in the heat of this election season.

It’s his grandfather, Frank Tanabe of Honolulu.

The 93-year-old World War II veteran with inoperable liver cancer cast his vote from his hospice bed last week. A picture of Tanabe exercising that right, with the help of his wife, Setsuko, and a daughter, has gone viral.

Kawaguchi is a marketing and communication manager with Inovus Solar. His uncle, Ike Tanabe, is a Boise doctor, and Ike’s children — Alex, a med student, and Carey, a Boise State University student — also are from Boise.

Kawaguchi’s cousin posted the picture of Frank Tanabe voting on the social media site Reddit, where it’s gotten more than a half-million hits and a lot of comments.

The top-rated comment is “True Patriotism,” The Associated Press reported. “This is America. Amen” and “Thank you, Citizen” are the other top comments.

Frank Tanabe was unwavering in his commitment to carry out his duty as an American citizen, a responsibility he has taken seriously his entire life, said Kawaguchi.

“It’s important,” Kawaguchi said. “You have the right to vote. People died for it.”

Tanabe, originally from Seattle, was one of 110,000 Japanese-Americans sent to 10 isolated relocation centers in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming in World War II.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that pulled Japanese-Americans from their homes, jobs and businesses to places like the 33,000-acre Minidoka Relocation Center near Jerome.Tanabe, a student at the University of Washington, was forced to go to Tule Lake, Calif., where he started a newspaper at the camp. Meanwhile, his family’s business was burned; then his family was sent to Minidoka, where he later joined them.

Today, 73 acres of the site is protected as the Minidoka National Historic Site.Tanabe enlisted in the Army and was assigned to the secret Military Intelligence Service. He and other members of the unit were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2011 in a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

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

Will his vote count if he dies before Election Day? Well, that depends.

Tanabe’s ballot could be ruled invalid if the state’s Department of Health reports the death before the election. But to void that vote, election officials would have to dig through all of the absentee ballots to find it — which is more work than usually will be done, according to The Associated Press.

For Idahoans who might be hesitating about whether to vote, Kawaguchi points to what his grandpa has gone through and what he’s willing to do to answer the call of citizenship.“It’s a big deal,” Kawaguchi said. “We owe it to men like him.”

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/10/24/2321247/performing-his-duty-one-last-time.html#storylink=cpy

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