Nic Kawaguchi of Boise has his own model of true patriotism in the heat of this election season.
The marketing and communication manager with Inovus Solar shared with me a story about his grandpa Frank Tanabe of Honolulu. The story is about a picture that has gone viral on the internet of the 93-year-old World War II veteran who was casting his vote from his hospice bed.
The picture shows Tanabe with his wife Setsuko and his daughter Barbara helping him to fill out the absentee ballot for what will likely be his last vote.
His son, Ike Tanabe, Kawaguchi’s uncle, also lives in Boise. Ike’s children, Alex and Carey Tanabe are from here.
After Kawaguchi’s cousin Noah posted the picture on the social media site Reddit, it got more than a half a million hits since Thursday. Tanabe has inoperable liver cancer and is nearing the end, Kawaguchi said.
But he was unwavering in his commitment to carry out his duty as an American citizen, a responsibility he has taken seriously all of his life.
“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 who were interned in 10 isolated relocation centers in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that pulled 13,078 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 California to start a newspaper at the camp there. Meanwhile, his family’s business was burned down and the rest of the 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 later 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.
Tanabe’s ballot would be ruled invalid if he dies before the election and the state’s department of health reports it before the election. But to void it, election officials have to dig through all of the absentee ballots to find it, which is more work than it is usually worth, AP reported.
If you are hesitating about whether to vote, Kawaguchi points to what his Grandpa has gone through, and what he was willing to do to answer the call of citizenship one more time.
“It’s a big deal,” Kawaguchi said. “We owe it to men like him.”