Celebration of Life for Hero and American Patriot General Colin Powell
We offer our deepest condolences to the family of the late Colin Powell who transitioned last week. The retired four-star general who became the country’s first Black U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff died last week at the age of 84.
Powell was fully vaccinated, but like many with compromised immune systems, the general did not win the battle that he was fighting with COVID-19. Powell also suffered from Parkinson’s and multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body’s immune response. The sad news was first announced by his family on a post on his Facebook page and reverberated across the world.
The country has suffered a great loss and all communities of people who care about America feel the sting from his passing. We know that Powell championed America’s causes for years, first as a young man entering the Vietnam war and later as a statesman, championing issues within the top levels of government, and with world leaders across the globe.
Being the first is often a revered role, but it was important to Powell that he not become the last. He supported others on their journeys up the ladder in the military, within government, and within business and was often called upon for his advice and counsel from others in leadership.
As he made his way up the ranks, Powell credited Vietnam with shaping him and teaching him life lessons he would carry with him during his journey. In the past, many have described Powell as the reluctant warrior, to which he would often try to explain, saying, “Whenever that is asked of me, I say, true. I am a reluctant warrior. I don’t like wars. I don’t want to be a warrior. But remember the other thing that is well-known about me. And that is we go to a war, and I will do everything I can to beat the crap out of somebody, and win. That’s known as the Powell doctrine by the way,” he added.
Powell was born in 1937 in Harlem, New York, to immigrants from Jamaica and grew up in the South Bronx. After high school, he enrolled in the Army, where he served two tours of duty in Vietnam. He was wounded in action during the first, and on the second tour he received the Soldier’s Medal for rescuing several men from a burning helicopter. He would rise through the military, becoming a four-star general.
In the 1980s Powell served as U.S. National Security Adviser and Deputy National Security Adviser under President Ronald Regan. Under President George H. W. Bush, Powell became the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He became the first Black Secretary of State under Bush’s son, President George W. Bush.
Bush said in a statement Monday that he and former first lady Laura Bush were “deeply saddened” by Powell’s death, saying “Many presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience. He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend.”
In 2008, Powell endorsed then Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for President; and endorsed President Obama for re-election in 2012.
Obama expressed his condolences saying that he appreciated Powell’s endorsements, especially in 2008. Obama wrote of Powell, “At a time when conspiracy theories were swirling, with some questioning my faith, General Powell took the opportunity to get to the heart of the matter in a way only he could.” On “Meet the Press” when conspiracy theories were swirling about Obama’s faith, Powell said, “’The correct answer is, he is not a Muslim; he’s a Christian. But the really right answer is, ‘What if he is?’ Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.’”
Powell is survived by his wife, Alma, their three children, and multiple grandchildren.
Rest in Peace General Colin Powell.