Colin Powell was remembered Friday as a patriotic statesman who served his country in peace and war, at a funeral service that was marked not only by its reverence for the former secretary of state but by a bipartisan attendance of former presidents and dignitaries who paid tribute to the late giant of Washington.
During today's funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral, former colleagues, friends and family members remembered the life and legacy of the first Black secretary of state.
While much was made of his leadership and life of public service in tributes to Powell, friends and family shared personal anecdotes and mourned him as a family man and "a great lion with a big heart."
"The example of Colin Powell does not call on us to emulate his resume, which is too formidable for mere mortals. It is to emulate his character and his example as a human being. We can strive to do that. We can choose to be good," former FCC chair Michael Powell, Powell's son, said in a moving tribute to his father.
"My father made a monumental difference. He lived, he lived well. I've heard it asked, 'Are we still making his kind?' I believe the answer to that question is up to us. To honor his legacy, I hope we do more than consign him to the history books. I hope we recommit ourselves to being a nation where we are still making his kind," he said.
Richard Armitage, who shared a 40-year friendship with Powell and served for a time as Powell's deputy secretary of state, recalled Powell's "sense of humor, his insatiable curiosity and his comfort in his own skin."
Madeleine Albright, Powell's predecessor at the State Department, noted that despite their differences in background, she and Powell became close friends.
"The reason is that, beneath that glossy exterior of warrior statesman, was one of the gentlest and most decent people any of us will ever meet," Albright said.
The solemn service, which was closed to the public but broadcast on television, brought together leaders from both parties at Washington National Cathedral.
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden were seated in the front pew, along with former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and former first ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama. Former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice and current Secretary of State Antony Blinken were there, along with current Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley. Former President Bill Clinton, who was recently hospitalized with an infection, did not attend.
For more on Powell's life and career, see the stories below: