“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” This quote stands out among the thoughtful nuggets four-star general Colin Powell had dished out throughout his career as a military man.
Indeed, Powell lived a life true to his words. Through sheer hard work, guts, and dedication, he broke out of his race-imposed constraints to become the Secretary of State of the United States under ex-president George W. Bush.
He not only made history as the first African American to attain this height but was also the first to head the table of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Just before his death, the politician revealed a traumatic event from his past. Here’s what the former United States National Security Advisor said about the frightening moment.
Slide For Life
With all he achieved, many might assume that the renowned politician never doubted his career choice. However, while attending a tactic and leadership course at Ranger military school, he faced a nerve-wracking moment that lay on him for the rest of his life.
One of the requirements for passing the course was participating in an exercise tagged the “Slide for Life.” The setup consisted of a cable attached to the top of one tree and the other end at the lower stem of another tree.
The trainees were required to swing down the cable and not let go until they received the order from the instructor. Powell remembered his turn as a harrowing experience as his life flashed before his eyes.
Holding on to the cable’s hook, he descended at neck-breaking speed, thinking of the possible collision that lay ahead. Just at the last second, the instructor yelled for him to let go of the cable. He obeyed and dropped into the water below, narrowly escaping hitting the tree.
“It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life,” Powell said. He then divulged that the basis of the training was to fish out the faint at heart before the trainees went on to other phases of the course.
His Early Life
Powell was born on April 5, 1937, to Jamaican immigrant parents. He lived in a neighborhood in South Bronx, New York, and attended a public high school graduating in 1954.
Post high school, he pursued his collegiate life at The City College of New York, where he bagged a received a degree in Geology in 1958.
While at CCNY, Powell picked up interest in the army, joining the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). He described this decision as one that he truly enjoyed.
“It was only once I was in college, about six months into college when I found something that I liked, and that was ROTC, Reserve Officer Training Corps in the military,” he said.
“And I not only liked it, but I was pretty good at it. That’s what you really have to look for in life, something that you like, and something that you think you’re pretty good at.”
Career In The Army
From that moment onwards, lines kept falling in place for the statesman. After college, he went for basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Upon graduation, he received his marching papers and moved to the 48th infantry in West Germany, where he served as a platoon leader before joining the Vietnam war.
He came back from the war in 1975 and rose quickly through the army ranks. In 1987, he became the United States Deputy National Security Advisor, and a few years later was promoted to National security Adviser under ex-president Ronald Reagan.
His next stop was Commander in Chief, Forces Command (FORSCOM), gaining the monumental title of four-star general. Later, he was appointed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by ex-President George H. W. Bush.
After his storied career as an army man, the diplomat recently called time on his journey on earth on October 18 at the prime age of 84.
Powell’s Death And Legacy
Powell’s death happened due to COVID-19 complications while he was battling a blood cancer ailment. His family announced his demise in a Facebook post.
“We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment,” the family said.
“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather, and a great American.”
The white house also released a tribute to the general, praising his dedication to his country’s values.
“He believed in the promise of America because he lived it. He devoted much of his life to making that promise a reality for so many others,” said president Joe Biden.
“Time and again, he put country before self, before the party, before all else — in uniform and out — and it earned him the universal respect of the American people.”