Colin Powell will be regarded as an inspiration to future generations.
Colin L. Powell, the pioneering soldier-diplomat who ascended from modest origins to become the first Black secretary of state, was recalled on Friday by family and friends as a principled man of humility and grace whose storied record of leadership may serve as an example for future generations.
“The example of Colin Powell does not call on us to duplicate his résumé
which is too formidable for us mortals,” his son, Michael, said during his father’s memorial ceremony at Washington National Cathedral in a poignant tribute. “It’s to follow in his footsteps as a human being in terms of character and example.” That is something we can aspire for.”
The burial, which took place on a beautiful but cool day, gathered dignitaries and friends from many walks of life, including politicians and military personnel. Former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, former secretaries of state James Baker, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were among those there.
Bill Clinton, who is suffering from a terrible sickness, and Donald Trump, who publicly chastised Powell after his death for being critical of the former president, did not attend.
Powell, who was 84 years old when he died, died of COVID-19 complications on October 18th. His immune system had been impaired by multiple myeloma, a blood malignancy for which he had been receiving treatment, according to his family. He had been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Attendees at the funeral on Friday were obliged to wear masks. Not all of them did.
The US Army Brass Quintet performed a variety of melodies as visitors gathered in the cavernous cathedral, which has held the burial of numerous prior presidents, including Dwight D. Eisenhower. One of Powell’s favourites is Abba’s “Dancing Queen.”
While Powell was secretary of state during the Bush administration, Richard Armitage, who served as the State Department’s No. 2-ranking official, recalled the day Sweden’s foreign minister, Ann Linde, came to call and — knowing Powell’s fondness for Abba — presented him with a full CD set of the group’s music.
“Colin instantly got down on one knee and sang the full ‘Mamma Mia’ before a giddy Swedish foreign minister and a bemused American delegation.” “They’d never seen anything like it,” Armitage said of his 40-year relationship with Powell, which started when they were both serving in the Pentagon.
Powell was described as “a figure that virtually transcended time” and “one of the gentlest and most kind persons any of us will ever meet” by Madeleine Albright, Powell’s immediate predecessor as Secretary of State.
“He liked the chance to interact with people from different generations,” she added.
“This morning, my heart hurts because we’ve lost a friend and our country has lost one of its best and most devoted warriors,” she said. Even as we ponder the enormity of our loss, we can almost hear a familiar voice urging us — no, demanding us — to put our sorrows aside, to return our eyes to the future, and to get on with the business of the country, one step at a time.”
Albright and Powell battled sometimes as ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton administration, but they eventually became close friends. Both have spoken of a period when she urged for a US military involvement in the Balkans during his last months as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, questioning why the US had created such a strong military if it couldn’t be utilised in such a situation. “I thought I’d have an aneurysm,” Powell said of being annoyed by her comments.
Powell believed that the United States should commit its military only when it had a clear and feasible political goal, which was a crucial component of the Powell Doctrine, which reflected lessons learned from the United States’ failure in Vietnam.
Powell’s climb to prominence in American history is well-known.
Powell remembered a dismal boyhood in the Hunts Point district of New York City’s South Bronx in his book, “My American Journey,” in which he was a happy-go-lucky but uninspired student.
In 1954, during his first year at City College of New York, he acquired the military bug. Powell was encouraged to join the school’s Reserve Officer Training Corps after witnessing other pupils in uniform.
In uniform, he noted, “I felt distinguished.”
Despite the fact that he was only four years old when the United States joined World War II, he had strong recollections of the conflict. “On the living room rug, I deployed legions of lead troops and conducted wars,” he wrote, a dream predecessor of his Army years.
Powell would serve in the military for 35 years. He was commissioned in 1958 and served in many locations throughout the globe, including two tours in Vietnam in the 1960s.
Even before he was promoted to flag officer, he made a name for himself in the Pentagon. He served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the late 1970s, and as a brigadier general, he became Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger’s senior military assistant in 1983. He went on to serve as President Ronald Reagan’s national security advisor and was appointed to four-star general in 1989. Later that year, President George H.W. Bush appointed him as the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s first Black chairman.
His path was a pioneering American dream that earned him worldwide fame and trust.
He placed his reputation on the line in February 2003, when he presented the case for war against Iraq before the United Nations as Secretary of State. Powell’s sterling image was tarnished when it was revealed that the information he referenced was incorrect, and the Iraq War devolved into a deadly, chaotic nightmare.
Despite this, it was not destroyed. After leaving the administration, he established himself as a worldwide elder statesman and the creator of an organisation dedicated to assisting young underprivileged Americans. He was being courted by Republicans to run for president. He ended up backing the last three Democratic presidential candidates, who welcomed his support after growing disillusioned with his party.
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