Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is being memorialized Friday at a funeral service at Washington National Cathedral.
Powell, a four-star general and the first Black person to serve as secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, died Oct. 18 at age 84 from complications of COVID-19.
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden are attending, along with other dignitaries and military officials. (Powell was national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan and served two tours in Vietnam.)
Biden was joined by former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, as well as their wives. An array of other high-ranking officials from both current and former administrations are on hand, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and James Baker. Former Vice President Dick Cheney is also in attendance, as is former Defense Secretary Bill Cohen.
Music will be provided by military ensembles and the Cathedral Choir.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, along with Powell’s son, Michael, will give tributes.
The Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, the dean of the cathedral, said Powell was “a blessing to all who knew him.”
Quoting the apostle Paul, Hollerith said Powell “fought the good fight and he kept the faith.”
Armitage said Powell told him, “We always need to treat people with a little more respect than they deserve, because we don’t know what’s going on with their lives.”
He also related a story from when Powell was visited by the Swedish foreign minister, who presented Powell — a fan of the Swedish pop group ABBA — with a set of the group’s CDs. Armitage said Powell “immediately got down on one knee and sang the entire ‘Mama Mia’ to a very amused foreign minister from Sweden and to a gobsmacked U.S. delegation.”