93-year-old man’s last duty – voting!

93-year-old man’s last duty – voting!


One of the questions in the week 3 ethical dilemma is, “If you knew you were going to die before the end of the semester, what one thing would you like to do before you die?”  Not one student ever said, “I’d like to vote.”  Yet, Frank Tanabe, a 93-year-old World War II Veteran, diagnosed with inoperable cancer, made a decision to stay alive until he could vote just one last time. A few days later he died. Mr. Tanabe saw voting as a right, a duty and a responsibility as an American citizen. 


A Short History Lesson: After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941, which essentially brought America into WWII, over 100,000 Japanese-Americans were forced into “internment camps” during the war.  The US Government was fearful that these Americans were loyal to Japan.  Frank Tanabe and his family were among these thousands of Japanese-Americans forced from their homes and their lives. Frank was forced to withdrawal from the University of Washington and locked up. Yet, while at the internment camp, he decided to enlist in the US Army and played a key role in interrogating Japanese prisoners during the war.  He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal last year for his service to his country.  

Author’s Perspective: Many of you are still too young to vote, but please take a moment to understand the importance of your right to vote in this country.  This right should not be taken for granted. Women were not allowed to vote until 1920. Study the Civil Rights movement in the South to understand the history of African-American voting in this country. Voting is a civil liberty and many have fought and died to protect this and other liberties. 

American Voter Turnout: In 2008 we saw the largest turnout of American voters ever – 64%. That’s right, 36% of Americans with the right to vote (18 or older, not in prison, not previously convicted of a felony and sane) decided not to vote. Was it a burden? An inconvenience? Apathy? My opinion is that if you give up your right to vote, you also give up your right to complain!

Please learn the issues. Read up on the candidates and the proposals. Watch CNBC and then watch Fox News to get both sides. Don’t believe a 30 second advertisement designed to sway uninformed voters. Do your own research. The only thing worse than a a non-voter is an uninformed voter. 

Your Turn:
1) If you could vote in this year’s election, would you? why or why not? Would you be an informed voter or an uninformed voter? Would you still vote if it was a cold and rainy day?
2) Do you find Frank Tanabe’s story to be inspiring? Despite all the discimination he faced, why do you think he felt so strongly about voting? 
3) Mr. Tanabe saw voting as a right, a duty and a responsibility as an American citizen. Do you agree? Do you think it’s your right not to vote?

Mr. Tanabe died shortly after filling out his absentee ballot. 

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