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What do those cemetery symbols mean?

By: Angela Nelson on Feb. 21, 2017, 8:23 a.m.
Gravestone in the shape of a tree trunk in Berlin, Germany

Photo: Dan Pelleg/Wikimedia Commons

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Tree trunk

Gravestones shaped like tree stumps symbolize a life cut short. Some can be fancy with squirrels or birds resting on a sawed-off branch. Others, like this one, are more simple.

In American cemeteries, you may see trees with axes or with the acronym W.O.W. on the plaque. This means the stone came from Woodmen of the World, a 19th and 20th century fraternal organization that provided the stones to its members, according to the Association for Gravestone Studies.