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CNN Live Event/Special

The Funeral of Colin Powell. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired November 05, 2021 - 13:00   ET



MICHAEL POWELL, SON OF COLIN POWELL: The last night of his life, I walked in to see him. Now he was the one lying in an ICU bed.

He could not see or speak to me. So I took his hand, just as he had taken mine decades before. I knew everything was not going to be OK. I wanted him to be at peace.

But, again, I felt my father's love in that hand, that hand that took my mother's hand in matrimony, that hand that held me as a baby, that hand that signed report cards, tossed baseballs and fixed old cars, that hand that signed treaties and war orders, saluted service members, and gestured joyfully while telling a story.

That hand is still now, but it left a deep imprint on the lives of family and dear friends, soldiers and sailors, presidents and prime ministers, and a generation of aspiring young people.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

My father made a monumental difference. He lived. He lived well. I have heard it asked, are we still making his kind? I believe the answer to that question is up to us. To honor his legacy, I hope we do more than consign him to the history books. I hope we recommit ourselves to being a nation where we are still making his kind, for, as he said in his autobiography, his journey was an American journey.

Colin Powell was a great lion with a big heart. We will miss him terribly.


The lord be with you. Let us pray.

Oh, God, whose mercies cannot be numbered, accept our prayers on behalf of thy servant Colin and grant him an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of thy saints, through Jesus Christ, thy son, our lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.

Amen. Almighty God, giver of all comfort, deal graciously with Colin's

family and friends in their grief. Surround them with thy love, that they may not be overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in thy goodness and strength to meet the days to come, through Jesus Christ our lord.




With what shall I come before the lord and bow myself before God on hi? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year- old? Will the lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with 10,000 rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you a mortal what is good. And what does the lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

The word of the lord.


AUDIENCE: My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

BATJER: He will not let your foot be moved, and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.

AUDIENCE: Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

BATJER: The lord himself watches over you. The lord is your shade at your right hand.

AUDIENCE: So that the sun shall not strike you by day, neither the moon by night.

BATJER: The lord shall preserve you from all evil. It is he who shall keep you safe.

AUDIENCE: The lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in, from this time forth for evermore.

LT. GEN. SAMUEL EBBESEN (RET.), LONGTIME FRIEND OF COLIN POWELL: I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, from all the tribes and peoples and languages standing before the throne and before the lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.

They cried out in a loud voice, saying, salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the lamb. And all angels stood around the throne, and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne, and worshipped God, saying, amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.

Then, one of the elders addressed me saying, who are these robes and white, and where have they come from? And I said to him, sir, you are the one that knows. Then he said to me, these are they who have come out of the great ordeal.

They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. For this reason, they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne shall shelter them. They will hunger no more and thirst no more.

The sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat, for the lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the waters of life. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. The word of the lord.



REV. JOSHUA WALTERS, RECTOR, ST. JOHN'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH: The Holy Gospel of our lord Jesus Christ, according to John.

AUDIENCE: Glory to thee, oh lord.

WALTERS: Jesus told his disciples, do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my father's house, there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also, and you know the way to the place where I am going.

Thomas said to him, lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.

The Gospel of the lord.

AUDIENCE: Praise be to thee, oh, Christ.


REV. CANON STUART KENWORTHY, CANON OF EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF WASHINGTON: Come, Holy Spirit. Fill us with your healing and saving grace, in the name of God, father, son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Please be seated.

Mrs. Powell, Annemarie, Linda, Michael, your children and all the family today, today, we stand in solidarity with you before the mystery of life and death and say in our prayers in farewell to Colin Luther Powell, son, loving husband, devoted father, grandfather, friend, soldier, counselor to presidents, senior statesman, man of peace, child of God.

I pray you will feel us holding you up in this time, but, most importantly, the loving arms of God around you all. And I hope that also, in this brief span of time, in memory and honor of your beloved Colin, we may know ourselves more united as Americans.

The measure of Colin Powell's life, this good and great man, is more than any one person can fully take in or tell. These heartfelt, moving and poignant tributes took us a long way.

And so your presence here today, as you stand with his family, all of you, your memories, indeed, even the person you are, is now a part of that larger mosaic that tells of the life of Colin Powell. The love and years you shared as family are forever with you, imprinted deep within your hearts.

And the impact of Colin's life on you, his friends, colleagues and this nation reveals the fullest picture that we can have. You know the ways he formed and influenced you, whether up close or through historical events.

This man had a discernible gift to project gravitas, warmth, and goodness, which called us all to our better selves, to strive for the good and the just, to face fully into duty, and with integrity resolve, in benevolence, to carry it out.

You all have memories of Colin Powell in heart and mind. Treasure and share them, but, most importantly, place them before God in gratitude, before God, who created the wonder and mystery of all creation, gave you the last breath you drew and who gave Colin life from the first and receives it back again.

The great 20th century Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was once asked, what is the most important thing a religious person can do. His answer was given in one word, remember.

That is what we do this day. It is what we do as religious people every time we gathering. We hear again and again the sacred stories of encountering God, ancient and cherished, stories about God as ineffable mystery, yet still revealed to our fragile and mortal humanity.

We remember God's saving love for the human race. And in that act of remembering together, the God of life and giver of every good gift is present to us just as in this moment.


This God is the one who raised up and delivered Israel out of bondage in Egypt, fulfilling ancient promises, and who raised Jesus from the dead into resurrection life. Colin knew this God. Through all his years, his faith was of first importance. And his life was marked by those words of the Prophet Micah. He has showed you, o man, what is good, to do justice, to do justice

and to walk kindness and to walk humbly with your God. The God who gathers and comforts us is a God of justice and mercy, who seeks to lift up all who seek him, those who grieve, the lost, the weary, forgotten, the vulnerable and poor, and all in the margins of life.

And God wants you to know, in every circumstance of life, that you, our beloved, whoever you are, whatever you are, whatever you have done, God looks at you today and he loves you. This is the God we know, who loves fiercely, who traffic in life and death, and is known in every dimension of life, even in the crosscurrents of the emotions we experience today.

In speaking with many people in these last weeks, as Colin Powell's life was remembered, there was at the beginning of most of those conversations just the slightest of pauses, sort of a recalibrating of the heart and mind and a realization that we were now talking about a member of the family, respected, admired and loved.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice captured this in a recent remembrance, writing: "Colin love soldiers and always held them to the highest standards. Yet he also took time to understand their struggles, personal and professional, and to comfort them when they suffered. The military was his second family, and he cherished the opportunities that it had given him and others."

Do you hear what is at the heart of this? This might seem unusual or new to you, but those who serve together in the profession of arms, especially when in harm's way, come to know that there is a component of love in that bond and one that you actually depend on.

I discovered this personally in 2005 and '6, deploying into the Persian Gulf as an Army chaplain. General Colin Powell was the epitome of this reality and truth.

Recently, a dear friend, Eric Motley (ph), a young, younger African- American man who grew up as a young boy in Madison Park, Alabama, on land that had been ceded to the ancestors of slaves, shared this memory with me.

"When I was in high school, my grandmother gave me a photo of General Powell adorned with a chest full of medals, and prompting me: 'You need not look far for your own hero.' I carried that photo all through school, and have it to this day."

After reading General Powell's book 'My American Journey' in college, Eric said: "For the first time in my life, I found myself and all I wanted to be. And all these years later, I still do my best to imitate the man himself, trying to make my life journey as good and honorable and centered on service. I have held a light to his life, and it has been a true affirmation of faith."

I have often wondered how many young men, and especially young black men, were given that book, accompanied by the same admonition: You need not look far for a hero?


There are many loves we recount this day in all the tributes we have heard and the ones that are deep in your hearts, as beloved wife, children, family, friends, those in the profession of arms, colleagues and untold members -- numbers of men and women across our nation, many loves.

But I am here to speak with you about an even greater love. We are here today because of a person. And that person is the man in the glory, Jesus Christ. In him, the greatest love ever known was given to the world.

We know this most supremely in Christ's life, death and resurrection, climaxing on that first Easter morning. Each Gospel varies in telling of those last days of his life, providing both a veracity and a stereoscopic truth unparalleled in all of literature.

In his last hours, is Jesus was tried, mocked, beaten, humiliated, crucified and spiked to his cross, he took into himself all the sins of humanity past, present, and future. His closest disciples fled in fear to hiding.

But, finally, strong women came to his tomb. There, God had acted. A cosmos-altering explosion of divine light and life was released, surging at God's command, breaking that three-day canopy of silence, and, from that tomb, Jesus rose to new life, resurrection life, and all creation rises with him.

In that newly beheld radiance that is without analogy, sins are forgiven, death is vanquished forever. God raised Jesus, so that you and I might share in his resurrection.

And if you turn to him and accept him in faith, he will come into you, and raise you into that new and eternal life now, just as he has for your beloved Colin, who now stands upon another shore and in a greater light, with that multitude of saints that no mortal can number.

In Colin's last hours, his loving family went to him in the evening at Walter Reed to say goodbye. In the predawn, he took his last breaths, fell asleep, and awakened into the heart of God.

And now Colin knows intimately of what the 17th century Anglican priest and poet John Donne wrote: "Bring us oh, lord God, at our last awakening, into that household and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness, nor dazzling, but one equal light, no noise, nor silence, but one equal music, no fears, no hopes, but one equal possession, no ends, nor beginnings, but one equal eternity in the habitation.