Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are reflecting on the life, character and legacy of former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Monday, following the announcement of his death at age 84.
As many gave their condolences to his family and noted they were “saddened” by Powell’s death, Former President George W. Bush highlighted how much Powell was trusted by several U.S. presidents.
“He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam. Many Presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience. He was National Security Adviser under President Reagan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under my father and President Clinton, and secretary of state during my Administration. He was such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the presidential medal of freedom — twice,” Bush wrote.
“He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend. Laura and I send Alma and their children our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man.”
Powell died Monday as a result of complications from COVID-19, his family said in a statement. The 84-year-old former military leader was fully vaccinated against the virus.
“We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment. We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” his family said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who Powell called a “superb choice” for leading the Pentagon, told reporters on Monday that he feels “as if I have a hole in my heart.”
“The world lost one of the great leaders we have ever witnessed…and I lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor.”
Some on social media reflected on the historic changes Powell made during his service, most notably being the first black secretary of state.
“This is hitting me hard,” Jaime Harrison, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, wrote on Twitter. “Colin Powell was a statesman who put his country & family above all else. As a young Black man, he inspired me & showed that there are no limits to what we can be or achieve. Sending my prayers to his family. Rest In Peace Secty”
“RIP to Colin Powell, a trailblazer,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) said. “Our prayers are with his family.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) echoed Buck’s sentiment, highlighting the former military leader’s disposition.
“Today, the nation lost a man of undaunted courage and a champion of character. A statesmen & trailblazer, devoted to America and the cause of liberty, Colin Powell’s legacy of service & honor will long inspire. Ann & I offer our love & sincere condolences to Alma and his family.”
Other lawmakers labeled Powell a “true leader” or “American hero.”
“General Colin Powell was a true American hero who embodied the values and character we should all strive for. May we take this time to honor his life and his service to our nation. My prayers are with his family as they mourn this incredible loss,” Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) wrote.
“I am saddened to hear that four-star general Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has passed away,” Rep. Elise Stefanik said in a tweet, adding “America has lost a true leader and American patriot, but we will always remember his service to the United States of America!”
Some reflected on meeting Powell, calling their time together an “honor.”
“Very sad and shocking news that former Secretary of State Colin Powell has passed. I had the honor of meeting Secretary Powell several times over the years, and this is tragic news,” Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) wrote. “My thoughts are with his wife, family, and all he served with during this dark time.”
Former Democratic Georgia State House Rep. Stacey Abrams also offered her condolences, saying the secretary of state “led with integrity, admitted fallibility and defended democracy.”
Former Acting Director of the United States National Intelligence Richard Grennell thanked Powell for his service and his family “for their sacrifice, too.”
“Thank you for your service, former Secretary of State Colin Powell. RIP. And a sincere thank you to your family for their sacrifices, too,” he posted on Twitter.
“Saddened by the passing of former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell,” Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) wrote, adding that Powell was, “A true servant leader and soldier-statesman. Thank you for serving this great nation.”
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) called Powell a “patriot and true statesman,” saying he and his wife are praying for his family.