World War II veteran Harvey Erwin has voted all of his life. But he had never been cheered for doing his civic duty — at least not until Tuesday.
The 94-year-old was standing in line to vote in Joplin, Missouri, when a man behind him spotted his Air Force hat and thanked him for his service. Erwin was a tail gunner in the 781st Bombardment Squadron and flew 25 missions during World War II.
Erwin stumbled a bit when he shook the man’s hand, so another voter asked election officials if the veteran could go to the front of the line so he wouldn’t have to wait so long, his daughter, Janine Erwin Johnson, told CNN.
“People turned and started clapping all the way to the front of the line and saying “Thank you for your service,” she said. “It made tears stream down my face because of the recognition to my sweet dad.”
The Joplin Globe newspaper captured the moment as Erwin filled out his ballot with his 3-year-old great-granddaughter beside him.
Erwin told Globe reporter Emily Younker he has voted in every election since 1940, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran for his third term.
It’s my heritage to vote,” he said. “You can’t criticize if you don’t vote.”