America mourns Colin Powell, son of Jamaican immigrants who rose to become first Black Secretary of State in U.S. history

Powell had been treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, his family said.

America is mourning Colin Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants and four-star general who rose to become the first Black Secretary of State in U.S. history. Powell died on Monday at the age of 84 following complications from COVID-19, according to his family.

Powell had been treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, his family added.

President Joe Biden reviews remarks he will deliver about the situation in Afghanistan, Thursday, August 19, 2021, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Erin Scott) 
President Joe Biden reviews remarks he will deliver about the situation in Afghanistan, Thursday, August 19, 2021, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Erin Scott)

Powell is well known around the world as the top general who oversaw the U.S. military operations in the 1991 Persian Gulf War as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father and grandfather and a great American,” his family wrote in a statement announcing his passing.

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said in a proclamation that “General Colin Powell was a patriot of unmatched honor and dignity,” and Vice President Kamala D. Harris said “Secretary Colin Powell dedicated his life to defending our nation. As National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State, he was an independent thinker and a barrier breaker who inspired leaders in our military and throughout our nation.”

The current Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, described Colin Powell as “an extraordinary leader and a great man,” while Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said Powell “led a great American life, and his love of country shone throughout his long and distinguished career in the military and in other forms of public service.”

“From his earliest days in the U.S. Army, it was clear that Colin Powell was an exceptional leader. Serving two tours in Vietnam, he earned the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Soldier’s Medal for heroism, among other military decorations,” Austin wrote in a statement.

Lloyd Austin 
Lloyd Austin

Below are some reactions from the U.S. government over the passing of Colin Powell.

Statement of President Joe Biden on the Passing of General Colin Powell

Jill and I are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend and a patriot of unmatched honor and dignity, General Colin Powell.  

The son of immigrants, born in New York City, raised in Harlem and the South Bronx, a graduate of the City College of New York, he rose to the highest ranks of the United States military and to advise four presidents. He believed in the promise of America because he lived it. And he devoted much of his life to making that promise a reality for so many others.

As a Senator, I worked closely with him when he served as National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as Secretary of State. Over our many years working together – even in disagreement – Colin was always someone who gave you his best and treated you with respect.

Colin embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat. He was committed to our nation’s strength and security above all. Having fought in wars, he understood better than anyone that military might alone was not enough to maintain our peace and prosperity. From his front-seat view of history, advising presidents and shaping our nation’s policies, Colin led with his personal commitment to the democratic values that make our country strong. Time and again, he put country before self, before party, before all else—in uniform and out—and it earned him the universal respect of the American people.

Having repeatedly broken racial barriers, blazing a trail for others to follow in Federal Government service, Colin was committed throughout his life to investing in the next generation of leadership. Whether through his care for the women and men serving under his command and the diplomats he led, or through the work he shared with his wife Alma at the America’s Promise Alliance to lift up young people, or through his years leading the Eisenhower Fellowships, Colin’s leadership always included a focus on future.

Above all, Colin was my friend. Easy to share a laugh with. A trusted confidant in good and hard times. He could drive his Corvette Stingray like nobody’s business—something I learned firsthand on the race track when I was Vice President. And I am forever grateful for his support of my candidacy for president and for our shared battle for the soul of the nation. I will miss being able to call on his wisdom in the future.

Jill and I are sending all our love and strength to Alma, their children, Linda, Annemarie, and Michael, their grandchildren, and the entire Powell family.  Our nation mourns with you.

Colin Powell was a good man.

He will be remembered as one of our great Americans.

Statement by Vice President Kamala Harris on the Passing of Secretary Colin Powell

Vice President Kamala Harris departs the West Wing to participate in an Instagram Live event with Dr. Bernice King in her ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House, Friday, August 6, 2021. (Official White House Photo by Erin Scott) 
Vice President Kamala Harris departs the West Wing to participate in an Instagram Live event with Dr. Bernice King in her ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House, Friday, August 6, 2021. (Official White House Photo by Erin Scott)

Secretary Colin Powell dedicated his life to defending our nation. As National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State, he was an independent thinker and a barrier breaker who inspired leaders in our military and throughout our nation. 

Secretary Powell served our nation with courage, unwavering in his belief in its principles and its promise. The son of immigrants, Secretary Powell rose through the ranks of the United States Army. He was a decorated veteran and a devoted patriot.

I last saw and spoke with Secretary Powell in July, at a dinner honoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel. I was reminded then how he always showed the world the best of who we are. He upheld the highest standards, representing our nation with dignity, grace, and strength.

The legacy that he leaves behind – on America’s national security and on the leaders he mentored – can be seen every day across our nation and the world. 

Douglas and I send our deepest condolences to Secretary Powell’s wife, Alma Powell, and their children and grandchildren.  

Secretary Antony J. Blinken On the Passing of Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on October 13, 2021. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ 
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on October 13, 2021. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/

Treaty Room Washington, D.C.

October 18, 2021 

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I’d like to say a few words about an extraordinary leader and a great man whom we lost today, Colin Powell.  Secretary Powell was beloved here at the State Department – at C Street – and at our embassies and consulates around the world.  He came to the State Department after a long and extraordinary career in the U.S. Armed Forces.  He was General Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, when he walked into the Oval Office to be sworn in as our nation’s top diplomat.  After that, he was Mr. Secretary. 

He gave the State Department the very best of his leadership, his experience, his patriotism.  He gave us his decency, and the State Department loved him for it.  Secretary Powell trusted the career workforce here; he empowered them.  He made sure that the desk officer who knew a particular country or issue most deeply was the one who got to brief him or the president.  He told his staff that they didn’t need to worry about getting fancy lunches – hamburgers and hot dogs were just fine.  When he hopped onto the elevator, he’d pull others on with him.  He didn’t bother with formalities. 

And he wasn’t overly concerned with hierarchy either.  He wanted to hear from everyone.  He walked around the building dropping into offices unannounced, asking what people needed, making sure they knew he was counting on them.  Secretary Powell was simply and completely a leader, and he knew how to build a strong and united team.  He treated people the way he expected them to treat each other, and he made sure that they knew he would always have their back. 

The result was that his people would walk through walls for him.  Secretary Powell’s career in the U.S. military is legendary.  As a teenager at the City College of New York, not far from where he grew up in the South Bronx, he joined ROTC, and after graduation, became an army officer.  For 35 years, he was a professional soldier.  He started in the infantry, served two tours in Vietnam, was stationed in South Korea and West Germany, and oversaw Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. 

By the time he retired from the military, he was arguably the most respected and celebrated American in uniform.  At that time, he received his second Presidential Medal of Freedom, this time from President Clinton, who said at the medal ceremony: 

“Today, a grateful nation observes the end of a distinguished career and celebrates 35 years of service and victory: a victory for the United States military that gave young Colin Powell a chance to learn and to grow and to lead; a victory for the military and political leaders who continue to elevate him based on their complete confidence and sheer respect; a victory for a nation well served; and, in a larger sense, a victory for the American dream, for the principle that in our nation, people can rise as far as their talent, their capacities, their dreams, and their discipline will carry them.”

After that career, Colin Powell could have enjoyed a quieter life, maybe dedicating himself full-time to the organization he founded, America’s Promise, to help young people from underrepresented communities like the one where he grew up.  Instead, he started a new career in diplomacy, and I believe Secretary Powell’s years as a soldier are what made him such an exceptional diplomat.  He knew that war and military action should always be a last resort, and to make that so, we need our diplomacy to be as robust and well-resourced as possible.  He called for increased funding for State, which then – as now – was just a fraction of the Pentagon’s budget.  He modernized the State Department, putting a computer on every desk.  And he believed deeply that America was an exceptional nation, that we could and should lead with confidence and humility, and that the world was safer when the United States was engaged and its allies and partners were united. 

Future military leaders and diplomats will study Colin Powell’s work, like the Powell Doctrine that hammered out criteria for when and how the United States should use force, and his support for expeditionary diplomacy, diplomats and military working together to bring stability to high-threat environments.  He was a man of ideas, but he wasn’t ideological.  He was constantly listening, learning, adapting.  He could admit mistakes.  It was just another example of his integrity. 

As is probably evident by now, I was a huge admirer of Secretary Powell’s – I always will be – and he was very generous with me.  This past Fourth of July, we spent a few precious hours together – talking about the State Department, discussing all the challenges we’re confronting around the world.  Two things were clear: Secretary Powell’s depth of knowledge about world events was unmatched, and he loved the State Department and wanted it to thrive. 

So today is a sad day for us here at State, especially for all those who worked for and with Secretary Powell, and we’ll never forget the experience.  Our thoughts are with Alma Powell and the entire family today, to everyone who loved him. 

Colin Powell dedicated his extraordinary life to public service because he never stopped believing in America.  And we believe in America in no small part because it helped produce someone like Colin Powell.  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

A PROCLAMATION BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
 
A PROCLAMATION
General Colin Powell was a patriot of unmatched honor and dignity.  The son of immigrants, born in New York City, raised in Harlem and the South Bronx, a graduate of the City College of New York, he rose to the highest ranks of the United States military and to advise four Presidents.  He believed in the promise of America because he lived it.  And he devoted much of his life to making that promise a reality for so many others.  He embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat.  He led with his personal commitment to the democratic values that make our country strong.  He repeatedly broke racial barriers, blazing a trail for others to follow, and was committed throughout his life to investing in the next generation of leadership.  Colin Powell was a good man who I was proud to call my friend, and he will be remembered in history as one of our great Americans.

As a mark of respect for General Powell and his life of service to our Nation, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset on October 22, 2021.  I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-sixth.
 

 JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

Department of Defense Statement by Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III on the Death of Colin Powell

On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense, I send my deepest condolences to the family of Colin Powell.

He led a great American life, and his love of country shone throughout his long and distinguished career in the military and in other forms of public service.From his earliest days in the U.S. Army, it was clear that Colin Powell was an exceptional leader. Serving two tours in Vietnam, he earned the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Soldier’s Medal for heroism, among other military decorations.

He culminated his time in uniform as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he oversaw Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm with his singular brand of sure and steady professionalism and courage.In and out of uniform, he earned the trust of U.S. presidents, foreign leaders, diplomats, and the American people. As Secretary of State, Colin Powell advanced U.S. values of democracy, diversity, and freedom all around the world. And through his philanthropic work, this son of immigrants raised in the South Bronx set out to expand opportunity for young people, helping them find something they do well and love doing, just as he had found in the U.S. military.While we mourn his loss, we also honor the profound imprint that Colin Powell has left on the United States.

Generations of young leaders will continue to look to his example and his character as the foundation for their own success. It is difficult to overstate the difference he made. I counted him among my best mentors and friends, and this news has left a hole in my heart.There will never be another Colin Powell. He made history. He made the country he loved a safer, better place. And we will forever be grateful for his leadership. Our thoughts remain with his beloved Alma, his children Michael, Linda, and Annemarie, and the rest of his family at this sad and painful time. 

Statement by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on the Passing of General Colin Powell 

Today, we lost an American hero with the passing of former Secretary of State Colin Powell.  

His life touched so many. From the New Yorkers who grew up with him, to those he mentored at the State Department, to those who served under him in the military; so many of us grieve today.  

The son of immigrants, the first Black American Secretary of State and the youngest and first Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he represented the best America has to offer. He broke down barriers and treated people with respect, integrity, and decency, no matter their rank. 

Linda Thomas-Greenfield 
Linda Thomas-Greenfield

I will never forget the kindness he showed me when I had the honor to work for him at the State Department. In the years since, he was never too busy to share or to mentor. 

Though he is gone, his legacy will live on through the countless individuals he inspired throughout his career. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family.  

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

Show More
error: Alert: Share This Content !!

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker