Centennial Remembrances & Commemorative Marker Erected to Honor a Franklin Park Veteran

By: Paula Green

One hundred years ago, there was global turmoil as numerous nations were embattled in World War I.  At the time it was known as the “Great War,” or the “War to End All Wars.”  Sadly, history clearly shows us that was not the case, since wars still rage on today.

World War I was sparked by what is sometimes referred to as, “the shot heard around the world.”  The Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were shot in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo by Serbian nationalist on Jun. 28, 1914.  Within weeks, the major powers were at war and the conflict soon spread around the world.  The fighting continued for a little more than four years.
Along with the centennial anniversary of World War I, we also commemorate another 100th military anniversary this year, the founding of the VFW (Veterans of Foreign War) which happened here in Pittsburgh.
The VFW traces its roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service.  Many arrived home wounded or sick, and there was no medical care or veterans’ pension for them.   They were left to care for themselves.
In their misery, some of these veterans banded together and formed organizations with what would become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.  On Sept. 17, 1914 at a conference held at the Schenley Hotel in Pittsburgh, the VFW was formed with the merger of several Spanish American War veteran groups.
One local resident, Gen. Robert G. Woodside of Franklin Park was instrumental in the founding of the VFW in 1914.  Two commemorative roadside markers were recently placed at Woodside’s former home in Franklin Park during a dedication ceremony held on August 26.  One marker recognized Woodside’s contributions as Allegheny County sheriff and controller, as well as his service to the VFW, and the other acknowledged the house, known as the Stone Mansion, which now houses Schellhaas Funeral Home & Cremation Services Inc.
According to Franklin Park historian, Debby Rabold, “Robert Woodside was remarkable.  His record of public service to this nation and especially to military veterans is unrivaled.  It is fitting that we honor him at this time because 100 years ago, the modern Veterans of Foreign Wars was created with Woodside’s help.  He is also remembered at the Soldiers and Sailors Hall of Valor in Oakland.  I hope the markers will serve as a reminder that history is not always made in far off places, but that history is often made at home by our families, friends and neighbors.
Northern Connection magazine salutes World War I veterans, Robert G. Woodside and all veterans who have dutifully served our country.  Remember to honor them on Veterans Day – November 11th.

If you know someone that you would like to see written up in our Support our Troops section email us or call Paula at 724-940-2444.