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Colin Powell’s life is celebrated at a funeral that brings Washington together.


They argued and argued, and the argument delayed US intervention in Bosnia.

But over time, they also became close friends, which became critical after the controversial 2000 election. When Powell was named her successor, she said, he drove to her home in Georgetown, walked in the door, and together they began a succession. plans—something that didn’t happen twenty years later, when, crippled by President Donald J. Trump’s refusal to admit defeat, the Trump administration resisted a cooperative transfer of power. (Mr. Trump, who denounced Mr. Powell a day after he died, was not present at the ceremony and was not named.)

“He made pragmatism charismatic,” Ms. Albright said of Mr. Powell.

During the ceremony, there were many such stories from a seemingly lost Washington, as participants told the story of how a son of Jamaican parents grew up in the Bronx, made sense of his life in the military, and rose through the ranks of presidents of both. parties. It was what his son, Michael K. Powell, a former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, called a true “American journey,” a phrase taken from the title of Mr. Powell’s autobiography.

Even the scene of the funeral itself seemed like a rare celebration of a figure whose party affiliations seemed far less interesting and less concrete than his approach to war, diplomacy, and problem-solving. The National Cathedral has traditionally been the site of presidential funerals – Ronald Reagan’s was held there, along with George HW Bush’s – but only rarely for other notable figures, including Senator John McCain, who died in 2018.

Mr. Powell’s ability to lead – whether in charge of troops or the diplomatic corps – was recalled by Richard Armitage, who served alongside him in Vietnam, became his best friend and his deputy secretary of state. “One day I asked General Powell what the secret of leadership is,” recalled Mr. Armitage.

“You see some people, they look great,” he remembers Mr. Powell saying, wearing their impressive uniforms. “But the fact is, they can’t lead a horse to water.”

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