President Biden and military leaders will pay tribute to the late Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at his funeral Friday at Washington National Cathedral.
Powell died last month of complications from covid-19. He was 84.
“Beyond his military and diplomatic success, Secretary Powell became a universally respected north star on the nation’s moral compass,” Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral, said in a statement. “We pray that America will find the courage and capacity to be the nation that Secretary Powell believed us to be.”
The invitation-only service, which is scheduled to begin at noon, will be broadcast and streamed online.
A four-star general, Powell served under three Republican presidents, including as national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan. He was the first Black person to lead the State Department and was also the youngest and first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Powell, who was fully vaccinated, had Parkinson’s disease and multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer that impairs the body’s ability to fight infection.
Members of both parties praised Powell last month as a respected statesman and trusted adviser to presidents. In a statement, Biden said Powell “embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat.” Former President George W. Bush called him “a dear friend and patriot” who was “such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice.”
And former President Barack Obama praised Powell for forging a path that aimed to make reaching high levels in government less challenging for Black Americans.
“He never denied the role that race played in his own life and in our society more broadly,” Obama said in a statement last month. “But he also refused to accept that race would limit his dreams, and through his steady and principled leadership, helped pave the way for so many who would follow.”
Powell served as secretary of state under Bush — a tenure that was marred by a 2003 appearance before the United Nations in which Powell cited faulty information in seeking to make the case for the U.S. war against Iraq.