The American Legacy of Colin Powell

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Colin Powell's Legacy

Tower of Public Service

Colin Powell is a true tower of US public service, because he shaped the lives of many public servants as a soldier, leader, and government official.

He died of Covid-19 complications on October 18 after battling multiple myeloma, an illness which he battled with for years, according to his aide. Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that can compromise immunity.

“General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19. He was fully vaccinated,” according to a statement by his family on Facebook.

In his decorated career, he was most well-known as the first African-American Secretary of State, from 2001 to 2005 under George W. Bush’s administration. He was also a national security adviser to Ronald Reagan and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff from 1989 to 1993 under George Bush.

Immigrant Success Story

Despite his success, his beginning were humble. Born to Jamaican parents who raised him in South Bronx, he graduated from City College of New York with the rank of cadet colonel at the top of his class.

He served in Vietnam twice. In his first assignment, he received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his valor. For the second time, he received a Soldier’s Medal because he rescued his fellow soldiers in a helicopter crash. 

11 military decorations sum up his recognition. 

Professional Leadership

For public servants, Colin was an American who was a man for the people. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a career official in the US government, shared:

“Secretary Powell trusted the career workforce here… He made sure that the desk officer, who knew a particular country of issue most deeply, was the one who got to brief him or the President,” Blinken said.

“He walked around the building, dropping into office unannounced, asking what people needed, making sure they knew he was counting on them.”

Military and Political Leadership

He was known for his fight for the freedom and security of Americans as a general and security adviser. Yet, his story highlights a man who showed that the American dream is a dream worth fighting for. For example, in the fight against communism and terrorism, he acted decisively in favor of national security as he went after Al-Qaeda. 

He was also Secretary of State during the Iraq invasion, which he justified before the UN Security Council. Though, later on, he admitted that it was not the best decision.

According to his 2012 memoir, “It Worked For Me”, he shares somewhat ruefully, “I am mad mostly at myself for not having smelled the problem. My instincts failed me.

“It was by no means my first, but it was one of my most momentous failures, the one with the widest-ranging impact.” He then added: “The event will earn a prominent paragraph in my obituary.”

As a leader, soldier, and family man, he surely lived a full life. He is survived by his wife of almost 60 years and three children.

Rest in peace, General Powell.

Twitter Reactions to Colin Powell

My condolences to the family of Colin Powell. He was a great American hero who dedicated his life to service.

Nicole Malliotakis

Seeing a lot of news alerts and headlines saying Colin Powell died of COVID while vaccinated, but virtually none of them mention that he had a massive co-morbidity: multiple myeloma, or blood cancer. This kind of thing is part of the problem

Matthew Ingram

What's annoying about the media is that they're acting like Colin Powell's death is rare. It's not. Alot of fully vaccinated have died from Covid.

McKayla Rose

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