Veterans Convention Returns to Pittsburgh After 101 Years

Founded in Pittsburgh in 1914, the Veterans of Foreign Wars is holding its national convention at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

photo by ash carter via flickr creative commons

More than a century after its 1914 founding at the old Schenely Hotel in Oakland, the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention is back.

The five-day meeting begins July 18 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. About 10,000 VFW members and Ladies Auxiliary VFW members (and all of their guests) are slated to attend, and you can, too — virtually, that is. Starting at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, VFW is live-streaming its proceedings as members discuss veterans' issues, elect new national officers and present awards.

“Coming back to Pittsburgh after 101 years is a big story, a good story,” John Biedrzycki, an Army veteran of the Korean War, tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. During the convention, he will be installed as the VFW’s national commander, its top post.

The VFW also will host a patriotic celebration with live music and an appearance from a surprise celebrity, known for his love of red, white and blue. It’ll happen Tuesday, July 21, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Heinz Field. 

Don’t know too much about veterans in foreign wars? Here’s a little history lesson for you:

VFW started back in 1899 to secure rights and benefits for veterans’ service. By 1915, it grew to have 5,000 members, with former President Teddy Roosevelt joining in 1917. Today, the organization has almost 1.9 million VFW and Auxiliary members in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and many foreign countries.

The organization helped to create a GI Bill for the 20th century (later fighting for and passing a GI Bill for the 21st century), developed the national cemetery system and fought for compensation for Vietnam vets and veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. It also fought to improve medical services for women veterans, helps fund numerous war memorials and provides more than $3 million annually in college scholarships and savings bonds for students.

And that’s more than enough reason to wave your flag.



#Milestones: ADA celebrates progress

Since its inception on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act has improved millions of lives. To mark the law’s 25th anniversary, the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are teaming up with organizations such as the Pittsburgh Jewish Film Forum’s ReelAbilities, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and others to bring a summer-long celebration to the city.

From the Pirates’ Disability Awareness nights to an event for young adults hosted by the Children’s Hospital Advisory Network for Guidance and Empowerment on July 17, these festivities are for Pittsburghers, by Pittsburghers. “Here, the law transformed our transportation, our housing, communications and so many other aspects of community life,” says Tina Calabro, communications co-chair for the celebration.

The goal is “to recognize all of the progress that’s been made in our area and to call attention to the next steps for our community.” Click here for a full schedule of events.





#AwardWinning: Local illustrators receive props

We want to offer our congratulations to a pair of Pittsburgh comic-book artists who recently picked up Eisner Awards.

At the 27th annual Eisners, considered the "Oscars" of the comic-book world, Ed Piskor's "Hip Hop Family Tree, Vol. 2" picked up the award for Best Reality-Based Work. Jim Rugg won for Best Publication Design of "Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream." 

Related: Ed Piskor is Pittsburgh's Hip-Hop Historian



Categories: The 412