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America - Editor's Picks - October 18, 2021

US; Colin L. Powell, Country’s First Black National Security Adviser, Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff And Secretary Of State Dies From COVID-19 Complications

Colin L. Powell, who in four decades of public life served as the nation’s top soldier, diplomat and national security adviser, and whose speech at the United Nations in 2003 helped pave the way for the United States to go to war in Iraq, died on Monday. He was 84.

He died of complications of Covid-19, his family said in a statement, adding that he had been vaccinated and was treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md., where he died.

Mr. Powell had undergone treatment for multiple myeloma, which compromised his immune system, a spokeswoman said.

Mr. Powell was a pathbreaker, serving as the country’s first Black national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state.

Beginning with his 35 years in the Army, Mr. Powell was emblematic of the ability of minorities to use the military as a ladder of opportunity.

His was a classic American success story. Born in Harlem of Jamaican parents, Mr. Powell grew up in the South Bronx and graduated from City College of New York, joining the Army through ROTC.

Starting as a young second lieutenant commissioned in the dawn of a newly desegregated Army, Mr. Powell served two decorated combat tours in Vietnam. He later was national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan at the end of the Cold War, helping negotiate arms treaties and an era of cooperation with the Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev.

By the time he retired from the military in 1993, Mr. Powell was the most popular public figure in America because of his straightforwardness, his leadership qualities and his ability to speak in blunt tones that Americans appreciated.

He wrote a best-selling memoir, “My American Journey,” and flirted with a run for the presidency before deciding in 1995 that campaigning for office wasn’t for him.

He returned to public service in 2001 as secretary of state to President George W. Bush, whose father Mr. Powell had served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs a decade earlier.

In taking the job, Mr. Powell followed the footsteps of one of his heroes, Gen. George Marshall, who served as secretary of state to Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.

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