Colin Powell – Farewell to State Department – January 19, 2005 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
With the sad news earlier today of the passing of former Secretary of State/Diplomat/four-star General Colin Powell, the result of complications from COVID, it brought to mind that Colin Powell, despite whatever political feelings you may have towards him, his strength of character and commitment to being of service to the American people transcended ideologies and revealed that you can be a politician and human being at the same time. He was widely respected, no matter the party affiliation. That’s not to say all was perfect, that some decisions were wrong decisions – he was, after all human.
And as a reminder of the human side of Colin Powell, the side that matters the most at the end of the day, here is his farewell address to the team at the State Department from January 19, 2005:
Colin Powell: “You’re the ones who do it. I’m up on the 7th floor with my wonderful colleagues from the 6th and 7th floor who are assembled behind me like a choir. (Laughter.) We trust they will not break out into song at any time. (Laughter.) But we’re the leaders and we have the privilege of being your leaders, but we know how it gets done. It doesn’t get done because I give a speech or I go here or I go there; it gets done because you do it every single day. You do it by the way in which you go about your work and the way in which all of your colleagues in every one of our missions around the world go about their work.
They are the carriers — you are the carriers of America’s values. You are the ones that go out not to lecture, not to impose, but to let our works go before us to show what democracy can bring to people in the way of a better life. You are the ones who demonstrate the importance of individual rights, that everybody should be free. You are the ones. The way you do your job here, the way all of our people at our embassies around the world do their job in connecting with the citizens of that land, tell those folks what America’s all about, what we believe — freedom, human dignity, economic openness — all for the purpose of not imposing American values, but showing how American values can benefit the world if they are adjusted and adapted to the needs of a particular country.”
Colin Powell: April 5, 1937 – October 18, 2021.
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