Editor's note: Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly helps.
Help us choose the letter of the month for April 2014 by reading through the three nominated letters and voting on the ballot at the bottom of the web page.
Takei salutes teachers | April 9
Recalling dark chapter in history
George Takei's memories of the relocation camps reminded me of what happened to my family and friends. I was born in 1952 so I have no personal memories of these camps. Along with thousands of Japanese and Japanese-Americans, my grandparents and their American-born children were rounded up. They were first sent to a horse track. From there, they wound up at the Gila River Relocation Camp in the Arizona desert. It was not pleasant.
My older brother and a cousin were born there. When the war ended and my family returned home, it was a subject that wasn't discussed much. When they did talk about it, my grandparents were filled with anger and resentment.
A Japanese-American friend in California, a child at the time, was sent with her family to a relocation camp. When they returned home, their house was destroyed by looters. They had to live outside. My friend collected weeds so her mother could make "weed soup." For protein, her father would kill robins with a slingshot. I consider it a testament to their courage and resilience that they didn't succumb to the elements and disease.
I moved to Tampa from the San Francisco area in 2004. I was shocked that so many people here, even those of my parents' generation, know little or nothing about the relocation camps. There are not many people left who were incarcerated at these camps. Their stories are both inspiring and heartbreaking.
Stan Koyama, Tampa (April 14)
Flood battle not at its end | April 10
Older homes out of luck
Ignored in this article, and nearly so by Congress, are the thousands of us homeowners in houses built before the mid 1970s. Permanent residents of homes too old to be "grandfathered" are left facing up to 18 percent annual increases until we reach ridiculous and unaffordable rates.
Built in 1970, my modest two-bedroom ranch in Dunedin faces "actuarial" rates of $9,009 a year. The only homes in our subdivision to receive real relief are a few McMansions that have replaced older homes.
Residents in older homes are left with the options of losing them as rates double in four years, triple in seven, etc.; or paying off mortgages and dropping insurance. Neither option is reasonable, and who will want to buy our properties facing the same options?
Ken Lynam, Dunedin (April 17)