AsMA Has Revised Its Logo

December 19, 2017

AsMA Has Revised Its Logo

Jeffrey C. Sventek, M.S., CAsP, FAsMA, FRAeS
Executive Director, Aerospace Medical Association

The Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) Council approved a revised AsMA logo during the November 15, 2017, meeting in Alexandria, VA. This approval culminated a 2-year process to review the AsMA logo and update it to ensure the symbology associated with the AsMA logo was accurate and truly represented the association’s focus on aviation and space medicine.

The old AsMA Logo with the Staff of Hermes. The new AsMA Logo with the Rod of Asclepius.

   During the May 10, 2015, AsMA Council Meeting, the AsMA President (Dr. Phil Scarpa) presented a proposal to change the official AsMA logo. This proposal was based upon a significant difference identified between the caduceus (Staff of Hermes) and the Rod of Asclepius. The Staff of Hermes is currently used within the official AsMA logo. The Staff of Hermes is depicted as a stick entwined by two snakes with surmounted wings. It is the symbol of modern medicine in India and elsewhere. Most major hospitals, medical colleges, clinics, professional bodies, prescriptions and medical journals support this symbol either as an emblem or as part of their logo. The car windshields of many doctors feature this symbol prominently as a badge of prestige and honor. But, unfortunately, the very emblem we flaunt as an insignia of our medical profession is a false symbol and has nothing or very little to do with the noble art of healing. The true and authentic symbol of Medicine is not the Caduceus but the Rod of Asclepius.
   The Rod of Asclepius is a single serpent entwined rod wielded by the Greek God of healing and Medicine, Asclepius. In Greek mythology Asclepius is the son of Apollo, the god of light, the Sun, truth, and also a god of healing. Asclepius’s daughters are Hygieia, the goddess of hygiene and cleanliness, and Panacea, the goddesses of remedies. The Hippocratic Oath, which all physicians have taken for centuries, is dedicated to the same four deities, namely Apollo, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea.
   In contrast, Hermes, also a Greek God and his counterpart in Roman mythology, Mercury, are patron Gods of commerce, trade, merchants, and a protector of tricksters and thieves. More importantly, Hermes is a God of transitions and boundaries, and moves freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine and guides departed souls to the underworld. In 1902, a Captain in the U.S. Army medical corps mistook the caduceus for the Rod of Asclepius and proposed the adoption of the caduceus as the corps official symbol. Several years later, a librarian in the Surgeon General’s office noticed the erroneous assumption and alerted his superiors, but since the symbol had been by then in use for several years, it was allowed to remain. Unfortunately, others allied to medical services in the United States and soon the world adopted the same symbol. The Staff of Hermes embodies cunning machinations and death, hardly the connotations an emblem of healing should evoke.
   Dr. Philip Scarpa, Jr., proposed a change to the official AsMA logo that would replace the caduceus (Staff of Hermes) with the Rod of Asclepius and filling the space vacated above the shield with a black background and three white stars. This simple change would demonstrate AsMA as an association dedicated to the healing arts (Rod of Asclepius) for aviation (shield and wings) and space (black field with three white stars).
   The revised AsMA logo approved by the AsMA Council offers gold wings attached to a blue shield. These colored symbols, along with the blue ring with the Aerospace Medical Association name within the ring, clearly shows AsMA’s dedication to aviation. The field of black and three white stars abovethe wings and shield point to AsMA’s dedication to space operations. Emblazened front-and-center on the blue shield is the red Rod of Asclepius…the correct symbol for those dedicated to the healing arts.
   AsMA has started the transition away from the old AsMA logo to the new AsMA logo. You will see the new logo on the AsMA website, AsMA letterhead, AsMA marketing information, and within the AsMA journal. We will continue to replace the old AsMA logo with the new AsMA logo over the coming year.