He was born in the Bronx, New York, a son of a Jamaican immigrant couple who came to the United States carrying the spirit of the American dream in their modest luggage.
The curly-haired young man who admitted never being an exemplary student, nevertheless starred in a meteoric career up to the highest ranks of the military and national security apparatus, as an advisor to several presidents, including the youngest Joint Chief of Staff, homeland security advisor and the first black secretary of state.
Without meaning to, he became the face of two seemingly contradictory missions: military and diplomatic. For him, they were two sides of the same coin: military might, well used, could be a factor for peace.
His philosophy was summed up in the “Powell doctrine”: a foreign policy founded in the interests of the national security of the United States, propped up with public support, and only ultimately executed with overwhelming military force.
Winner of a thousand battles within the US military and national security apparatus Colin Powell lost his last fight against COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated against the virus. He was receiving treatment for myeloma, which had compromised his immune system. He was days away from receiving his COVID “booster” dose.
Two weeks before he died, Colin Powell had a Zoom conversation with his friend, General Wesley Clark to whom he said, “I suffer from Parkinson’s disease, from cancer and I am 84 years old. And I don’t know which of the three things is worse.”
Although Colin Powell took the deterioration of his health with humor and resignation, as a military man and statesman he was indefatigable, although his career was not without errors.
In 2003, during a speech before the United Nations Security Council, he presented a bottle with alleged anthrax, which was key to justifying the invasion of Iraq, due to the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction. Years later he deplored that speech as a mistake.
Colin Powell resisted the temptation to power and never accepted invitations to become the Republican Party’s presidential candidate.
Since 2004 he was the leader of the organization America’s Promise, where he, accompanied by his inseparable wife Alma Powell, dedicated their time, energy, creativity and money to improve the lives of children. Thanks to Colin Powell’s leadership, it became the largest national alliance focused on the well-being of young people.
More recently he denounced the divisive policies of Donald Trump and supported the presidential candidacy of Joe Biden. And last January, when pro-Trump mobs invaded the United States Capitol, Colin Powell declared that he no longer considered himself a member of the Republican Party. Rest in peace.
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