In the Museum of Veterans and Military History in Vilonia, there are several medical symbols and signs used in medical practices such as the caduceus, the combat medical badge as well as the Geneva cross symbol of the American Red Cross—a red cross with arms of equal length on a white background which is the visible sign of protection under the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
Medical personnel, with the symbol displayed, during an armed conflict are to be considered non-combatants and should not be attacked and not be taken as prisoners of war by parties to a conflict. Attacking medical personnel, vehicles, or buildings marked with one of these protective signs is a war crime.
The Red Cross symbol was declared at the 1864 Geneva Convention. The symbol is defined as a protection symbol in Article 7 of the 1864 Geneva Convention, Chapter VII.
The idea to introduce a uniform and neutral protection symbol as well as its specific design originally came from Dr. Louis Appia and General Henri Dufour, founding members of the International Committee. However, some enemies faced in more recent conflicts are often insurgents who either do not recognize the Geneva Convention, or do not care, and readily engage all personnel, irrespective of non-combatant status. As their non-combatant status is not respected, many U.S. medics no longer wear non-combatant markings. Some veterans recall that medics have often targeted by the enemy. One account is that the Japanese would aim for the medic—having a dead medic would effect the moral of the Marines fighting them, he said. Veterans have said the same strategy was also often adopted in the Vietnam war, by the Viet Cong / North Vietnamese. In both situations, one takes it that it was a matter of fighting to win -- chivalry not high on the agenda.
Located at 53 N. Mt. Olive in Vilonia, the museum is open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays and 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., the first Sunday of the month. No charge to tour. For information, call 501-796-8806.