Veterans

Why a Florida VA hospital serving WWII veterans has swastika floor tiles

Surprised to see a VA hospital’s floor decorated with swastikas, a Florida man sent a local news station a photo of the tiles and asked them to investigate.

The swastikas, which became the ultimate symbol of evil under the Nazis, are carved into floor tiles at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System as part of a decorative scheme, according to Selina Meiners, the Public Affairs Officer at the hospital.

Tampa, Florida’s WTSP 10News, which first reported on the facility’s swastika tiles, showed the pictures to Larry Jasper, a Jewish Army veteran, to get his opinion.

“The initial reaction would be shocked as to why is this here,” Jasper told 10News.

The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in St. Petersburg was built before World War II, and its swastikas have been a recurring topic of discussion over the years, according to Selina Meiners, a hospital spokeswoman.

Before its use in World War II, the swastika symbol was used to represent well-being, peace, and continuity in a number of cultures.

Because of the historical significance behind the swastika tiles, the Bay Pines system does not plan to remove them. Instead, officials have presented an historic preservation plan with Florida’s State Historical Preservation Office.

“It is considered to be a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism and dates back at least 11,000 years,” Meiners said.

The engineering department at Bay Pines is working to install plaques within six to eight weeks that will outline information about them. Until then, signage will be placed in the area, according to Meiners.

The C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center, Bay Pines’ main hospital facility, sees over 2,000 veterans per day.

“We never hesitate to provide the historical information about the tiles in response to the minimal amount of queries we’ve received over the years about them,” Meiners said.

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