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Lost battle with COVID-19: legendary US Secretary of State Colin Powell dies

Colin Powell, first black secretary of state, dies at age 84 from COVID-19 amid battle with cancer, reports CBS News.

Photo: Shutterstock

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell died Monday morning due to complications from COVID-19 amid the ongoing fight against cancer. He was 84 years old.

Powell, the first black secretary of state and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been fully vaccinated, his family said on his Facebook page.

But Powell has been battling other illnesses and being treated for multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that affects white blood cells and can severely compromise the immune system. His wife Alma also had a severe case of COVID-19, but she responded well to treatment.

“We want to thank the medical staff at the Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment,” wrote the Powell family. “We've lost a wonderful and loving husband, father, grandfather and great American.”

In memory of Powell, President Biden ordered the flags to be lowered until October 22, calling him "a patriot of unrivaled honor and dignity."

“As a Senator, I worked closely with him when he served as National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. Over the years of working together - even in the midst of disagreement - Colin has always been the one who did his best and treated you with respect, ”the president said in a statement.

“Colin personified the highest ideals of both the warrior and the diplomat. He was committed above all to the strength and security of our nation, ”added Mr Biden. “Time and time again, he put the country above all else - in uniform and without it - and it earned him the universal respect of the American people.”

“90 percent of my time is spent on 10 percent of the world,” Powell said.

Photo: Shutterstock

He was born on April 5, 1937 in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrants. He was a pioneering figure in Washington and earned the respect of both supporters and opponents.

Powell joined the US Army after graduating from college in 1958. During his 35-year military career, he served two terms in Vietnam and was deployed to West Germany and South Korea.

He went on to hold senior positions under four presidents, first as National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan, and then as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. He was the first African American to hold this position. Then President George W. Bush named Powell as Secretary of State.

"The dream was not made a reality thanks to magic, it takes sweat, determination and hard work," - said Powell.

He led the State Department during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and advocated military action against al-Qaeda. He also supported the invasion of Iraq and appeared before the United Nations to provide evidence that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is in possession of weapons of mass destruction. However, the main justification for the war in Iraq was based on poor intelligence.

Powell will go on to call his 2003 speech to the United Nations, in which he described the Iraqi weapons program, a “blot” on his track record.

On the subject: Soon, the United States will allow all foreigners vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the country: Russian Sputnik is still banned

Although Powell served primarily as Republican presidents and was himself nominated as a possible candidate, in later years he withdrew from the Republican Party.

The retired four-star general backed former President Barack Obama in 2008 to replace Republican nominee Senator John McCain, and then did so again in 2012.

He supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 and supported Biden rather than former President Donald Trump in 2020 because he believed he was "lying all the time" and was not an "effective president."

In a statement Monday, Bush called Powell a "great civil servant" on whose advice and experience presidents of both parties have relied, and said he and former First Lady Laura Bush are "deeply saddened" by his death.

“He was a favorite of the presidents, twice awarded the presidential medal of freedom. He was highly respected at home and abroad. Most importantly, Colin was a family man and a friend, ”Bush said. "Laura and I express our sincere condolences to Alma and their children as they have lost a great man."

In his own statement, Obama recalled that Powell supported his candidacy in 2008, noting that he "took the opportunity to get to the heart of the matter as best he could."

Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press just weeks before the 2008 election, Powell spoke bluntly about Obama's conspiracy theories.

“It is allowed to say things like, 'Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.' Well, the correct answer is: he is not a Muslim, he is a Christian. He has always been a Christian, ”Powell said then. - But in fact, the correct answer is: what if this is so? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no, this is not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim American who dreams of becoming president? However, I have heard senior members of my own party suggest, "He is Muslim and may be associated with terrorists." This is not how we should do it in America. "

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was Secretary of Defense in 1991 when he and Powell directed the expulsion of Iraqi troops from Kuwait during the first Gulf War, said he was “deeply saddened to learn that America has lost a leader and statesman. ".

“Working with him during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, I saw firsthand General Powell's loyalty to the United States and his commitment to the brave and selfless men and women in military uniform who serve our country,” the statement said. Cheney. "Colin was a pioneer and role model for many: the son of immigrants who rose to the rank of National Security Adviser, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State."

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken paid tribute to Powell in State Department comments, praising him not only for his "legendary" military career, but also for being an "exceptional diplomat" who helped modernize the State Department and strengthen its resources.

“He was a man of ideas, but not an ideologist. He constantly listened, studied, adapted. He could admit mistakes. It was just another example of his honesty, ”Blinken said, adding that he was a“ huge fan ”of Powell.

“When successes come your way, remember that you didn’t do it alone. It's always us, ”Powell said.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants, and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York.

Blinken said he spent several hours with Powell on July 4, during which his "depth of knowledge of world events" and love for the State Department were evident.

“Colin Powell dedicated his distinguished life to public service because he never stopped believing in America,” he said. "And we believe in America to a large extent because it helped create someone like Colin Powell."

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters that he had lost "an amazing personal friend and mentor," and Colin Powell could not be replaced.

“The world has lost one of the greatest leaders we've ever seen,” Austin said, adding that Powell always gave him advice on difficult issues. "I feel like there is a hole in my heart."

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