The funeral for former Secretary of State Colin Powell was held Friday at Washington National Cathedral with President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden in attendance.
Powell, who was the United States’ first Black secretary of state, died of complications from COVID-19 on Oct. 18.
While he had been vaccinated against the virus, his family said he suffered from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer for which he had been undergoing treatment.
Powell had a distinguished career in the military and public service. He was President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser, and in 1989 he was promoted to four-star general. Later that year, President George H.W. Bush selected him to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
Before his work in the Pentagon and the White House, Powell served 35 years in uniform in the U.S. Army.
Madeleine Albright, who preceded Powell as the nation’s top diplomat; Richard Armitage, who was deputy secretary under Powell and had known him since they served together in the Pentagon during the Reagan administration; and Powell’s son Michael all delivered eulogies at the service.
Michael Powell said of his father that his family’s life was unregimented, despite having a military man as a father.
“It was a warm and joyous and loving home anchored by our strong and graceful mother Alma,” he said.
Michael Powell talked not only about the statesman but also the father he had:
“Our parents taught us right. They taught us wrong, and they taught us to take responsibility for our actions and never to blame others. Disappointing them was the worst punishment you could imagine. My father is frequently remembered as a problem-solver while his solutions to world problems may have been elegant. His fixes around the house were a bit more kludge,” CNN reported.
He also said his father was a man who never asked more of his troops than what he was willing to do himself.
Colin Powell’s predecessor, Madeline Albright, said that despite their differences of background, they were close friends, CNN reported.
“On policy, the general and I didn’t always reach the same conclusions, and in fact, he would later recount that one of my comments almost gave him an aneurysm,” Albright said during the funeral, according to CNN. “Although we were the same age he and I were shaped by different experiences and had different ideas and represented different departments, but over the past quarter-century we also became very close friends, an experience I know that I have in common with many of you.”
She called him a “warrior statesman” who was gentle and decent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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