SEMINOLE — After a few speeches and a few tears, Pinellas County's veteran's hospital acquired a new name on Friday: the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center.
For decades it has been known as Bay Pines, and for decades Pinellas County's late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young was known to visit there.
In recognition of Young's longtime work on behalf of veterans, the hospital was renamed in a ceremony. Young, a Republican, died in October after serving nearly 43 years in the U.S. House.
Friday's speakers included: U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor; U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Chumuckla, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee; Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan; Young's son Bill Young II; and VA Under Secretary for Health Robert A. Petzel. Young's widow, Beverly, also attended.
One person who did not attend was David Jolly, a longtime aide to Young, who was successful in a special election last month to succeed Young in Congress.
Jolly said in an interview later that he was asked to attend a service for retired Navy Seal Gary "Doc" Welt of Seminole, and chose to honor that request.
"Obviously, I would like to have been in both places." As to attending the service for Welt, Jolly said, "In many ways it's what I think Mr. Young would have done."
Jolly attended a separate VA event in Tampa at 3:30 p.m. Friday.