Colin Powell honrado por presidentes y dignatarios en un memorial en Washington

Colin Powell, quien surgió de un origen humilde para servir como secretario de estado de Estados Unidos, fue honrado en la Catedral Nacional de Washington el viernes, following his death last month a la edad de 84.

The funeral service was attended by the current president and first lady and former presidents, first ladies and secretaries of state, in an atmosphere akin to a state funeral.

Presidents Joe Biden, George W Bush and Barack Obama were all in attendance, along with their wives, Jill Biden, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama.

Bill Clinton could not attend because he is recovering from an infection, while Jimmy Carter, a 97, is too frail to travel. Donald Trump did not attend.

Powell was revered as a four-star army general, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and a statesman who appealed to both sides of the aisle and had made history as the US’s first Black secretary of state.

He was also known as an approachable presence in a capital city so often bound up by protocol.

His professional reputation had been marred by his pivotal role in precipitating and attempting to justify the 2003 invasión de irak, decisions about which he later expressed regret.

However nothing negative was heard during the service under the vaulted roof of the huge cathedral, with over 1,500 present to honor Powell on a clear, crisp and breezy November afternoon, and speeches were more personal than political.

A Republican, Powell nevertheless endorsed Democrat Barack Obama in his 2008 campaign that saw him become the first Black US president.

Powell rose to the heights of military and diplomatic service from relatively disadvantaged beginnings, having been born in New York City to Jamaican parents and raised in the tough South Bronx neighborhood, where he was educated in public schools before he entered the army, via a college officer training program.

Powell’s widow, Alma Powell, sat alongside their children, Linda, Michael and Annemarie, as the service began on Friday afternoon.

Eight military pallbearers carried his flag-draped coffin up the steps of the cathedral, as trumpeters inside played, and his coffin was blessed at the door before being carried inside as the clock’s midday chimes boomed beneath the vaulted ceiling.

Powell was eulogized by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, friend and former diplomat Richard Armitage, and Powell’s son Michael.

Albright was Powell’s predecessor as secretary of state, and she called him “a figure who almost transcended time,” and “one of the gentlest and most decent people any of us will ever meet”.

Ella añadió: “This morning my heart aches because we’ve lost a friend and our nation one of its finest and most loyal soldiers. Yet even as we contemplate the magnitude of our loss, we can almost hear a familiar voice asking us – no, commanding us – to stop feeling sad, to turn our gaze once again from the past to the future and to get on with the nation’s business while making the most of our own days on Earth, one step at a time.”

Biden’s secretary of state, Antony Blink, and former secretaries of state Hillary Clinton, a Democrat who ran for president, and Condoleezza Rice, who served George W Bush, were also seated prominently in the cathedral.

The dignitaries all wore face masks to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Powell died of complications from the disease at Walter Reed national medical center in Bethesda, Maryland.

He was fully vaccinated against coronavirus but had a compromised immune system having been treated for blood cancer. He also suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

Announcing his death last month, his family said they had lost a “remarkable and loving husband, padre, grandfather and a great American”.

At the service, former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage spoke of Powell receiving a visit from the Harlem Globetrotters in his office, with music playing.

“Nothing made Colin Powell happier than to sneak away from his security detail,” Armitage said.

In additional to religious music, a military band at the cathedral played Abba’s Dancing Queen and Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, reflecting Powell’s love of the Swedish pop group and his Jamaican roots.

En febrero 2003, as secretary of state, Powell appeared before the UN security council and made categoric claims that the then Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, had biological weapons and was developing nuclear weapons. He said his intelligence was based in part on accounts of unidentified Iraqi defectors.

The invasion went ahead without UN authorisation. The following year the CIA’s own Iraq Study Group released a report that concluded that Hussein had destroyed the last of the country’s weapons of mass destruction a decade previously.

Powell stepped down as secretary of state in November 2004, after Bush’s re-election. He later insisted that he had tried to warn Bush of the consequences of invading Iraq, but had supported the president when the decision to proceed was taken.

Powell was chairman of the joint chiefs of staff from 1989 a 1993.

The Associated Press contributed reporting

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