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General Colin Powell died this morning at the age of 84. What a life that was. In his later years, Powell became enmeshed in partisan politics, and younger people may remember him for that. But for most of his life, he was much bigger than mere politics.
If you're old enough to recall the first Gulf War, you know that Colin Powell was one of the last public officials that most Americans believed in. Powell's life, his story, seemed to confirm everything that was good about this country. Powell grew up in the South Bronx, a son of immigrants from Jamaica. In 1958, he received his commission in the U.S. Army. At that time, much of the country was living under Jim Crow laws, but Colin Powell thrived regardless. He served two tours in Vietnam with distinction. He went on to advise presidents, and in the end, he made it all the way to the top of the US military. After he retired, he became secretary of state.