Photograph of WWII Veteran casting last ballot inspires the nation

Posted at 6:48 PM, Oct 23, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-24 06:14:43-04

A photograph of a Hawaii World War II veteran casting what is likely his last ballot is drawing national attention.

93-year-old Frank Tanabe is in hospice care and is not expected to live more than a few days, but he did not let that stop him from voting.

The photograph shows Frank Tanabe, who is gravely ill and in a hospital bed, exercising a privilege many healthy Americans choose to ignore.

“I think he wanted to make sure that we all understand that voting is a fundamental right and responsibility of Americans. And he wanted to be sure that he did that even when he was very, very ill,” says Barbara Tanabe, his daughter.

Barbara Tanabe says her father is fiercely patriotic.

During WWII, as a young Japanese American held at an internment camp, he joined the U.S. Army.

His military intelligence service unit was awarded a congressional gold medal.

At 93, Tanabe suffers from inoperable liver cancer.

He's in hospice care and is very weak right now.

He's expected to live only a few more days. 

That's why he anxiously waited for the mail to deliver his absentee ballot.

When it came, he voted immediately.

“I read each candidates’ name to him and he either nodded or he shook his head,” says his daughter.

His grandson posted the photograph of that moment on an internet site.

It's gone viral with more than half a million hits and counting.

News outlets nationwide have picked up the story.

“In his final days he had the ultimate honor of being called a true patriot and a true American,” says Barbara.