STEVENSVILLE - It may be winter, but a new and very special "tree" has sprouted in Stevensville.

A veterans' memorial has been built by the town's community hall. On Saturday afternoon, officials, planners, veterans and area residents gathered to dedicate the bluestone memorial and reflect on what it means.

"May God bless our veterans and may God bless America," Renee Stewart, Veterans' Memorial Committee chairperson, stated during the dedication program.

That "tree" sprouting in the community is part of the memorial. It is a tree design engraved on a stone slab, with its branches holding medallions representing the four branches of the U.S. military - Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

Each 5 or 6 inches across, the medallions are brown and gold. The Army decal, with its cannon, cannonballs and flags gleaming, sits boldly on an upper left branch. The Coast Guard's anchors look ready to grab and hold tight. Crowned by engraved rays of light, the big eagle of the Navy clutches its own anchor while another, the Air Force's, looks ready to fly away.

And local Marines should be pleased - their eagle perches on top of the globe.

The slab stands upright on the back of a six-sided stone base, with a rock bench in the front, on the community hall side. An approximately 20-foot flagpole flying a U.S. flag stands opposite the bench.

Guests at Saturday's program included members of the Wyalusing American Legion and Rome VFW Post No. 6824, Bradford County commissioners Mark Smith and Doug McLinko, state Rep. Tina Pickett, and community members who helped develop and build the memorial.

Stewart gave the history of the project in the hall. Guests then walked outdoors for the dedication, by the VFW and Legion honor guard.

Glenn Owen, from the VFW, read of the symbolism of the U.S. flag and dedication of service people.

The flag, he stated, symbolizes all that Americans hold sacred. For example, the stripes represent purity and freedom; the red, courage; the blue, tranquility; the stars, peace and prosperity.

"We have come here to dedicate a roll of honor," Owen said. Among the veterans who served, "some of them did not return," he noted.

Service people left the peace of home, knowing the danger they faced. "They responded without hesitancy."

The honor guard presented arms, then marched away to conclude the program.

During the indoor program, Stewart explained what various supporters had done for the project. They included: Chet Ostrowski of Always Ready, who provided gravel; Ned Birchard of Birchard Monuments, engraving and medallions; Mike Chamberlin of Chamberlin Auto Body; Barb Driscoll, artist, design ideas; Charlie Fedak, blueprints; Mike and Pete Gillingham, construction and design ideas; Powers Stone; Kim Galella and Dave Sweeley of Southwestern Energy, which gave $5,000; Mark Yuhasz of Ace Excavating; memorial committee members Betty Harris, Joe Jones and Bob O'Brien; and Stevensville Community Club President Luke Vande Mark.

Planning began Sept. 8, 2008, with the groundbreaking this Aug. 15.

"They were here every single day working on it," Stewart said - even during the very hot days of summer.

In the spring, Sue Tabor of Gibbs Garden Center will help with landscaping around the memorial, adding shrubs and flowers, Stewart added.

Below the tree engraving are four simple words: "Honoring all who served." That message explains why planners built the memorial, she said: to show "our deep appreciation for their service and to honor all of our veterans," - many who died while serving.