Lifestyle » Vol. 6

A General Returns Home

By Paul Giorgio

Major General Richard J. Rowe, Jr.

“Worcester Boy Does Good” seems like a trite introduction when that boy grows up to be a Two Star General in the U.S. Army, but that is exactly the story of Major General Richard J. Rowe, Jr., who was in Worcester recently for the Spirit of America show at the DCU Center. Rowe is currently the Commanding General of the Military District of Washington, D.C.

Rowe’s family is from the Main South section of Worcester. His father taught at Northeastern University and his uncle, Paul Collins, was one of the owners of Central Supply, a plumbing supply business. Gen. Rowe’s father, like most men of his generation, was a veteran of WWII and encouraged his son, who was attending St. Lawrence University in New York, to join the R.O.T.C.

General Rowe graduated in 1973 and became an infantry officer stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. He worked his way up through the ranks and became a General in 2002. He received his second star in 2005 and now holds the rank of Major General. According to Rowe, there are 300 Generals in the U.S. Army.

General Rowe took command of the Military District of Washington in 2007. Although the unit he commands is a trained combat unit, most of the work they do is ceremonial in nature. The Military District of Washington oversees all of the funerals at Arlington National Cemetery including the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. In addition, the unit supplies official ceremonial support for all of the welcoming ceremonies for visiting heads of state.

Among the units under his command are the Old Guard Fife and Drums, The U.S. Army Band, “Pershings Own,” and the ceremonial guard units. They also have an orchestra, a strings group, and several choral groups.

Currently, General Rowe’s biggest task is planning for the Inauguration of the next President of the United States which takes place on January 20, 2009. Rowe has a staff of 200 working on the events right now, but says, “That will go up to 700 as the event draws nearer.”

I asked Gen. Rowe about any changes in the Inauguration in the post-9/11 environment. According to Rowe, “The swearing in is the same but with beefed up security.” He continued, ”We use the same parade route that we have always used.” General Rowe offered a little history lesson on the origins of the Inaugural Parade: “The Parade traces its history to the first swearing in of George Washington, who was escorted from his home in Mt. Vernon, Virginia to New York by members of the Continental Army.”

General Rowe’s ties to Worcester remain strong. His daughter Katherine is a freshman at Clark University (which is located across the street from where he grew up) and he was happy to be back in the city to see her and catch up with a few other relatives he still has in the area.

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