WASHINGTON, D.C. It was 100 years and 1 day in the life of General/Ambassador Edward L. Rowny (ret.) here at the residence of the ambassador on April 4, 2017. Ambassador Piotr Wilczek organized a birthday celebration to mark the auspicious occasion. Among the invitees were Rowny’s extended family, many friends and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, the Co-Chair of the Congressional Poland Caucus.
Photo: General/Ambassador Rowny entertaining the guests.
In his welcoming address, Ambassador Wilczek noted Rowny’s incredible accomplishments and many contributions to Poland, especially in critical moments such as Poland’s entry into NATO. The Ambassador also recalled Rowny’s critical influence on U.S. national security policy, especially in relations with the Soviet Union regarding nuclear arms reduction negotiations and treaties.
Edward Rowny was born in Baltimore, Maryland on April 3, 1917. His family’s Polish beginnings are rooted in Nagoszewa, near Ostrow Mazowiecka, Poland. Rowny had a very successful military career in the U.S. Army after graduating in 1941 from the USMA at West Point. He retired in 1979 with the rank of Lieutenant General. His military service included World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and as a military advisor to five U.S. presidential administrations: Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush senior. In 1982 President Ronald Reagan appointed Rowny chief negotiator, with the rank of U.S. Ambassador to negotiate the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the Soviet Union. Subsequently, he became special advisor for arms control in the Reagan and Bush administrations until his retirement in 1990.
100th Birthday Party at Ambassador’s Residence. General / Ambassador Edward Rowny is featured above being applauded by Ambassador Piotr Wilczek and attendees after being awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland – by order of President Andrzej Duda – for his incredible accomplishments and contributions to Poland and the American Polonia over the past first century of his dynamic and fruitful life.
Rowny is credited with strengthening relations between Poland and the U.S.A., establishing the Paderewski Scholarship Fund to support young Polish American musicians, and establishing the influential Polish American Advisory Council. He said that he attained a crowning achievement in 1992 when he fulfilled a fifty-years ambition to return the remains of diplomat, statesman and patriot extraordinaire Premier Ignacy Jan Paderewski from Arlington National Cemetery to the now-democratic Republic of Poland – where Paderewski received the full pomp and circumstance of a state funeral. Paderewski was stranded in the U.S. with the eruption of World War II and died here on June 29, 1941 in New York City. It was not possible to repatriate Paderewski’s remains to Poland during the bitter and acrimonious communist domination of Poland (1945-1989) by the Soviet Union following WW II.
To top off the evening’s festivities a very special tribute – sponsored by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs – was paid to Rowny with the premier screening of “Ambassador of Peace” by director Wieslaw Dabrowski. The fascinating documentary chronicled the life of Rowny from his humble Baltimore beginnings to his rise to the highest circles in his military and diplomatic careers, and other subsequent remarkable achievements contained therein, including authorship of three relevant books: “It Takes One to Tango,” “Smokey Joe and the General,” and “West Point ’41 – The Class that Went to War and Shaped America.”
As he enters the second century of his life, it is only fitting that the sobriquet “Renaissance Man” also be applied to General/Ambassador Edward L. Rowny as he has proven most worthy of it in all respects.
Photo: Chef Andrzej Bielach slicing the birthday cake.
Editor’s Note: An extensive and all-encompassing biography of Edward L Rowny appeared in the April, 2017 issue of the Polish American Journal.
Richard P. Poremski
Polish American Journal
Washington, DC Bureau
May 9, 2017