General Colin Luther Powell, retired U.S. 4-star general and diplomat celebrates his 76th birthday on April 5, 2013. Born in Harlem, New York, he was the first Black American appointed as U.S. Secretary of State and the only Black American to serve as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The post is the highest military position in the Department of Defense.
I became aware of General Powell during the Desert Storm operations in Iraq. I was very proud to see a Black American in military leadership and as a 4-Star general, especially in lieu of my many relatives who have served in the military as career soldiers and enlisted men.
In 2000, President George W. Bush appointed General Powell as US Secretary of State and at that time this was the highest rank in civilian government ever held by a Black American. Prior to that appointment, General Powell served as National Security Adviser in the Reagan Administration.
General Powell, a conservative Republican, was encouraged by Republican Party leaders to run for President of the United States. I was excited by this idea as he has led an exemplary, scandal-free life and possessed the leadership experience. He declined to run for personal reasons and in 2008, he endorsed a Democrat, Senator Barack Obama as President.
Happy Birthday, General Powell. You are a living, military and world history icon and one day I hope to interview you for a feature story in person.