University of Pittsburgh
September 12, 2014

Pitt to Commemorate National Formation of the VFW

Sept. 16 ceremony will honor the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, officially established at Pittsburgh’s former Schenley Hotel in 1914
National and Regional VFW Representatives, Chancellor Gallagher to Participate
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—On the grounds of the University of Pittsburgh’s William Pitt Union—a beaux-arts building that was once thePhotograph by Ryan Sheets renowned Schenley Hotel—stands a blue historical marker. Placed there by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1967, the marker rises next to a bus stop at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard. In yellow type it reads: The Veterans of Foreign Wars organized September 14-17, 1914, at the former Schenley Hotel near here. Veterans who had served in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and China were among its founders.

At that 1914 gathering attended by 250 delegates from across the United States and its territories, the VFW officially adopted its name, seal, and constitution, and formally founded its Ladies Auxiliary. Colonel Thomas S. Crago of Waynesburg, Pa., was elected the first national commander-in-chief of the VFW, and Margaret Armstrong of Pittsburgh was named national president of the Ladies Auxiliary. 

To commemorate the centennial of this historic formation of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Pitt will host a ceremony and invitation-only luncheon. Details follow.  


Military processional and ceremonial laying of the wreath at the historic marker; open to the public   

Invitation-only luncheon and keynote remarks will follow; media may RSVP to attend the remarks 

When: 11:30 a.m., Sept. 16  

Where: William Pitt Union, corner of Fifth Ave. and Bigelow Blvd., Oakland 


Patrick Gallagher, Pitt chancellor* 

 John A. Biedrzycki Jr., senior vice commander-in-chief of the VFW and Pitt alumnus (CGS ’74, EDUC ’78)*  

Jack Wagner, former auditor general of Pennsylvania and Marines Corp veteran* 

Matthew Hannan, Pitt graduate student, Marine Corps veteran, and president of Pitt Vets* 

Local and national representatives of VFW posts  

Local and national representatives of VFW Ladies Auxiliary 

Pittsburgh ROTC units 

Pitt’s Office of Veterans Services 

Pitt’s Student Veterans Association 

Pitt’s Veterans Alumni Council  

* Gallagher, Biedrzycki, Wagner, and Hannan will deliver remarks at the invitation-only luncheon following the ceremony. 

More information about Pennsylvania’s role in the history of the VFW is available here: