Joe Biden and Barack Obama will lead mourners at Colin Powell’s funeral service on Friday at the Washington National Cathedral, where the late general will be commended by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Jill Biden and Michelle Obama will join numerous military and congressional leaders in honor of Powell.
Powell, who battled a rare blood cancer, died last month at the age of 84 from complications related to COVID-19. He had been vaccinated by his family and said his immune system had been compromised from his battle with multiple myeloma.
The funeral begins at noon ET. Neither Biden nor Obama are expected to speak.
Powell will be commended by Albright, who preceded him as Secretary of State; Richard Armitage, who served as deputy secretary under Powell and had known him since they served together in the Pentagon during the Reagan administration; and Powell’s son Michael.
Joe Biden and Barack Obama will lead mourners at Colin Powell’s funeral service at Washington National Cathedral
Colin Powell passed away last month at age 84 from complications from COVID-19. He leaves behind his wife Alma, who also had a breakthrough with the corona virus
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will deliver the eulogy for Colin Powell — the two can be seen above with former Secretaries of State James Baker (left) and Hillary Clinton (right) at a September 2014 event at the State Department
Biden had ordered that all U.S. flags over government buildings and military posts across the country be flown at half-mast until Oct. 22 in honor of the four-star general.
Powell was the first black secretary of state and to this day remains the only black man to ever serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He served under several Republican administrations – including for Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, and George W. Bush.
He also served as Chairman of Bill Clinton’s Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1991 to 1993 after being appointed midway through Bush Sr’s term.
Powell served in uniform for 35 years. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1958 and served as a platoon commander in what was then known as West Germany.
In 1962 he was sent to Vietnam for a year as an advisor to a South Vietnamese infantry battalion. During that tour he was injured; he went on a second tour in Vietnam in 1968 and subsequently held various assignments at home and abroad.
In the late 1970s, he worked in the cabinet of the Secretary of Defense and in 1983, as a brigadier general, became the senior military assistant to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.
He later served in the White House as President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser, and in 1989 he was promoted to four-star general. Later that year, President George HW Bush elected him as chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
“He was such a favorite among presidents that he has twice earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” former President George W. Bush said when Powell’s death was announced.
His decades-long legacy was marred by a 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council in which he claimed Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
After leaving government, Powell became an elder statesman on the world stage and the founder of an organization focused on helping young underprivileged Americans.
Republicans wanted him to run for president, but he ended up backing the last three Democratic presidential candidates — including Obama and Biden.
In a statement following Powell’s death, Joe Biden praised Powell for holding “the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat” and commemorating his humble beginnings – the two can be seen together above in January 2009
Barack Obama called Powell “an exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot” – the two can be seen above in December 2010
In a statement after Powell’s death, Biden praised Powell for holding “the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat” and commemorating his humble beginnings.
Obama called Powell “an exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot.”
“And while he would be the first to admit he didn’t get every call right, his actions reflected what he thought was best for America and the people he served.”
On a personal note, Obama said he was “deeply grateful” that Powell not only supported him in 2008, but “what impressed me more was how he did.”
“At a time when conspiracy theories circulated and some questioned my faith, General Powell took the opportunity to get to the heart of the matter in a way only he could.”
He recalled Powell once correcting someone about Obama’s religious beliefs, adding, “What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim-American boy who believes he or she can become president?’
Obama went on to say, “That’s who Colin Powell was.”