The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) scrubbed references to Hunter Holmes McGuire, a doctor who served on the side of the Confederacy and later developed principles that became the foundation for a global treaty to prevent attacks of medical personnel in wartime, from a medical facility on Thursday, Military.com reported.
The Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center was renamed the Richmond VA Medical Center, Executive Director J. Ronald Johnson said in a notification to department chairs, according to Military.com. It was the last major VA medical facility designated in honor of a member of the Confederacy to be renamed amid a push to rid U.S. military and veteran symbols, statues and other items of designations that could be construed to honor Confederate figures.
“Glad to see the VA move away from the McGuire VA’s Confederate namesake following a push from many, including the great Rep. McEachin,” Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner said in a statement. “Naming decisions should honor the patriotism of our veterans.”
McGuire treated Confederate general Stonewall Jackson after the Battle of Manassas, amputating the Confederate leader’s arm in attempt to save his life, according to a biography from American Battlefield Trust. In postwar years he expressed racist opinions, opposing the rights of blacks to vote and decrying the end of slavery.
However, McGuire also championed the idea that armies should refrain from targeting medical personnel operating on the battlefield, the biography said. That idea was eventually codified in the Geneva Conventions protecting doctors as noncombatants and became a founding principle of the American Red Cross, according to Military.com.
Change followed efforts from Virginia state Rep. Donald McEachin, who died of cancer in November, according to Military.com.
VA Secretary Denis McDonough said he decided to rename the facility at the request of “veterans, employees and community members” to better reflect its geographic location, according to Military.com.
“After considerable discussion and review of the issue … I have decided to rename the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center to the Richmond VA Medical Center,” McDonough said in a release, according to Military.com.
Calls to scrub symbols, monuments and other articles perceived to honor Confederate figures intensified after the 2020 George Floyd riots and protests against racial discrimination in America. Three of McGuire’s descendants said that summer they supported the calls to remove the doctor’s names from facilities but expressed hope that “history will judge McGuire, a surgeon, based on his complete life and contributions,” Military.com reported.
“Arguably the most significant legacy of McGuire was his groundbreaking work to humanize war and redefine how captured military doctors and nurses should be treated in wartime,” they wrote.
The VA did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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