The Rowny-Paderewski Scholarship

The Rowny-Paderewski Scholarship was established by General Edward L. Rowny in 2004. Since then, the scholarship has enabled eight outstanding Polish students to attend summer courses at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. as well as intern in an organization of their choice in the nation’s capital.

Thanks to the Paderewski Scholarship, the students have had an opportunity to live, study and work in the vibrant city of Washington D.C. They took classes, participated in conferences, met with mentors, and networked. The Rowny-Paderewski Scholarship has opened doors for them to further their academic and professional careers in Poland and abroad.

The amount of the scholarship, about $8,000, covers tuition costs, travel, academic materials, living accommodations, and a modest stipend for incidental expenses.

A History of Paderewski and the Scholarship

by General Edward L. Rowny

In 2004, I established the Rowny-Paderewski Scholarship to promote the legacy of Ignacy Jan Paderewski. I paid for the first year scholarship and turned my mailing list over to the Fund for American Studies (TSAF). With my assistance, TSAF collected money to bring to Georgetown University a Polish University student for a summer session for the past seven years. We are now endeavoring to raise funds for the ninth Annual Rowny-Paderewski Scholarship for 2012.

IJP: Integrity Personified

One of the highlights of my life was attending the funeral of Ignacy Jan Paderewski at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on June 29, 1941. Huge crowds gathered to listen to Cardinal Spellman’s eulogy which was transmitted over loud speakers to the five thousand mourners along 5th Avenue. He said that President Roosevelt had decided to temporarily inter Paderewski’s remains at Arlington national Cemetery until Poland was once again free. It was impossible for Paderewski to be interred permanently in Arlington National Cemetery because he was not a United States citizen.

There was a magnificent ceremony at the cemetery’s Memorial Chapel (“MC”). Afterwards, hundreds of soldiers, sailors and airmen lined the route in the cemetery from the chapel to a crypt at the base of the Mast of the Maine where Paderewski’s remains, minus his heart, were interred.

Paderewski wished that his heart stay in his beloved United States. Unfortunately, his heart disappeared and it was not until a decade later that it was accidentally discovered in a Brooklyn cemetery. His heart is now in a crypt at the national Shrine of our lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, PA. At my Grandmother’s urging I resolved to return the body of Paderewski to Poland during my lifetime.

IJP: The Political Obligation

Space will not permit me to cover all of the deeds of this great pianist, composer, statesman and philanthropist. Paderewski inspired point 13 of President Woodrow Wilson’s 14 point peace program presented to Congress on January 8, 1918,which called for the resurrection of a free democratic, independent Poland. But for Paderewski’s initiative, persistence and charm, there would be no free Poland today.

Paderewski was prime minister and foreign minister of Poland from January 16th to November 27, 1919 and head of the Polish delegation to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, but in 1921 he returned to his beloved concert stage. Paderewski resumed playing concerts in the world’s capitals until 1938 when he interrupted his concert tours because he saw war clouds gathering over Europe. He now conducted speaking tours to war audiences of the growing Nazi forces which he said would not be confined to Europe but spread to the United States.

On September 1, 1939, the Nazis overran his native land and Poland once again ceased to be free. Paderewski implored President Roosevelt to mobilize United States forces to prepare for a war which he deemed was inevitable. His touring had been so strenuous that he became ill and died two years later.

ELR: Continuing IJP’s Work

During the next twenty years, I wrote articles and gave speeches about Paderewski. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy summoned me, a newly-promoted brigadier general in Vietnam, to Washington, D.C. He had read in the Washington Post that few people knew that Paderewski’s remains were at Arlington national Cemetery. Accordingly, he dedicated a marker at the entrance of the cemetery calling visitors’ attention to the location of Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s remains at the base of the Mast of the Maine.

The President gave a moving speech in which he said, in effect, that artists like Paderewski and Chopin are by nature free spirits and, therefore, believers in democracy. He repeated President Roosevelt’s vow that Paderewski’s remains would one day be returned to a free Poland.

Twenty years later, in 1981, I convinced President Ronald Reagan to make a similar speech about Paderewski at the Mast of the Maine at Arlington National Cemetery where he repeated the vows of Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy that Paderewski’s remains would be returned to his native land when Poland became free.

IJP: Preparing to Return Home

In 1985, as a special advisor to President Reagan, I was sent behind the iron Curtain to brief the leaders of the Warsaw Pact on Arms Control. I asked General Jaruzelski if I could speak to Lech Walesa, the dissident electrician who was forming Solidarity. He nodded approval and when I spoke to Walesa about Paderewski, I joked that he would one day become President of Poland and could ask for Paderewski’s remains to be returned. Over the next several years, I had summer conversations with Walesa whose Solidarity movement was gaining strength. I had an opportunity on several occasions to speak with Pope John Paul II about conversations I had with General Jaruzelski and Lech Walesa and in particular about Paderewski.

In 1989, the Communist structure collapsed and soon thereafter, Lech Walesa was elected President of Poland. True to his promise, Walesa asked the President of the United States to return Paderewski’s remains to Poland. News of my planning to return Paderewski to Poland was reported in the press, which came to the attention of the State Department Watch. This group of about twenty lawyers in Washington, D.C. called me a “grave robber” and filed a lawsuit against me.

They claimed that Paderewski so loved America that his remains should be kept in the United States. I told the judge that I had discovered a letter Paderewski had dictated to his sister the day before he died in which he told her he desired his heart to be buried in the United States. Logically, I said, he wanted his remains to be buried elsewhere and that place was naturally Poland. The judge agreed with my logic and I was allowed to proceed with my plans.

IJP: Returning Home

President George Herbert Walker Bush appointed me as honorary Chairman of the committee in charge of returning Paderewski’s remains to Poland. He gave me the use of Air Force One to transport Paderewski’s remains.

After a moving ceremony at the Memorial Chapel of Arlington National Cemetery, five thousand soldiers, sailors and airmen lined the streets of the cemetery to Andrews Air Force Base. We were met by President Walesa in Warsaw. As in the United States, thousands of Polish troops lined the streets as Paderewski’s remains were moved to Zamek, the ancient castle in downtown Warsaw.

The remains lay in state for a week, at which time President Bush arrived in Warsaw. There was another moving ceremony in which the President of the United States formally turned Paderewski’s remains over to the President of Poland. His remains were subsequently taken to St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Warsaw where he was permanently interred.

IJP: Promoter of Liberty

Paderewski’s philosophy was to promote freedom and democracy through education and the arts. Freedom, he held, was a divine right, and democracy the way to ensure it. He believed freedom did not come free, but required sacrifices.

Democracy was provided for through the United States Constitution of 1789 and the Polish Constitution of 1791, which it closely resembled. Constitutions, Paderewski said, do not guarantee life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness but require constant vigilance, strife and toil. One of Paderewski’s heroes, Thomas Jefferson, defined happiness in an Aristotelian way: the pursuit of excellence in all endeavors that led to noble and courageous action.

IJP: A Beacon to Guide Future Polish Leaders

Paderewski was a man of high character. Wilson said that “he was one of God’s finest creatures” and Clemenceau said that Paderewski was “the world’s most noble statesman, and characterized him” as a “super-civilized person.”

It must be clear why I decided that Paderewski should be a role model for Polish students. His integrity was so impeccable that his example needs to be followed by the current generation which is assailed by corruption. Polish students returning to their native land after study in the United States will be better equipped to become leaders in their communities and central government.