Colin Powell

by Parker from San Diego

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure."

"The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example" (Disraeli); a fitting quote for such a deserving man as General Colin Powell. Born on April 5, 1937, Colin Powell arose from humble beginnings. Raised on the backstreets of Harlem, New York, Powell was never accustomed to getting what he wanted. But with an improving family and financial situation, he was able to join the military shortly after his seventeenth birthday. At first glance, no one expected him to amount to anything. Now serving in the government as a retired four-star army general with a wife and three children, Powell has earned the respect of many. All of his life's experiences have shaped Powell into the extraordinary leader, father, and man he is today. Through his humility and acts of honor and bravery, Colin Powell shows he deserves to wear the title "hero."


During Powell's military career, he constantly displayed his bravery in situations that tested his courage. During his first tour in Vietnam in 1963: "he injured his foot in a punji-stick trap" (Stevenson). Despite being injured, he pushed through it and finished his tour. He shows people that although things happen that we may not expect, it's not an excuse to give up and stop trying. It's just one more reason to get back up. Powell was good at this: "He returned to Vietnam in 1968 for a second tour of duty as an executive officer with the US Army infantry. Powell was injured a second time when he rescued a number of soldiers from the burning wreckage of a helicopter crash" (Stevenson). Although the fear of getting reinjured may have still been in the back of his mind, Powell embarked on his second tour without question. Although he was indeed reinjured, his own pain was an afterthought while his comrades were in danger. Powell won numerous awards for his bravery, but his act of valiance came from his selflessness and his eagerness to assist others, not the promise of a medal. Colin Powell's courage sets the bar for everyone else to live up to.



Powell is an extremely honorable man who respects his family and his personal values. It all started with his parents: "Integrity, kindness, and Godliness, they taught us, were right. Lying, violence, intolerance, crime, and drugs were wrong and, even worse than wrong, in my family, they were shameful" (Online NewsHour). Powell's parents raised him very well. They taught him right from wrong and made sure he knew how to conduct himself. The qualities his parents engrained into him while growing up have stuck with him throughout the rest of his life so far. His strong family base has led Powell to many great things. In 1996: "Powell was named to the Howard University board of trustees. For several years, he was active as the chairman of 'America's Promise, the Alliance for Youth,' an organization committed to promoting community service and addressing the social issues facing America's youth" (Stevenson). Powell is not only an important figure in the military and government; he is also active in the community. His efforts to help the youth of the country understand society assist in the proper education of young children. His actions are perfect examples of checking your priorities and finding out what's really important in life. Powell constantly illustrates his well-rounded character, proving, without trying, that he is a man to be respected.


Despite all of his glorious accomplishments, Powell remains a humble, self-confident man. He always stuck to his guns. He: "refused several jobs in the new administration, including director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Preferring to remain in the Army, he was promoted to general and put in charge of the Army Forces Command" (Jacobs).  Powell could have accepted many prestigious jobs in the government, but he turned them down, preferring to remain in the army to assist his country first-hand. He felt like that was where his services were most useful, so he stayed. This shows his allegiance to his country and that that's what he was fighting for, not his own personal glory. He has accomplished so much, but: "As an adult and a successful career officer looking back on his youth, Colin Powell seems to give most of the credit for his achievements to his parents and his extended family. They provided the home life and the opportunities that made him want to do well"  (Colin Powell Biography Today). Just listen to that. This man is the proud owner of 20 medals of achievement, and he talks as though he had no part in his reception of them. His attitude is encouraging for other people and makes them feel good about themselves. Powell's humility is a key component to the wonderful personality he has developed.


Humility, honor and bravery seem to only exist in storybook legends.  For Colin Powell, however, they were the fundamental values that established him as a man early on and are still the driving forces of his character today. All of these noble traits are the result of strong friends, a good heart, and a loving, supportive family. "We were taught that hard work and education were the keys to success in this country. My sister and I were taught to believe in ourselves. We might be considered poor, but we were rich in spirit" (Online NewsHour). Powell always has a good attitude and is a prime example of what people should consider a hero. He inspires me to be the best person I can be, stay true to myself, and never seek the recognition of others. "Don't let your ego get too close to your position, so that if your position gets shot down, your ego doesn't go with it" (Colin Powell Quotes). Powell is a truly remarkable person. His leadership, perseverance, and work ethic promote the growth of his juniors, and inspire all to remember his great name, and inherit his example.





Works Cited



"Colin Powell." Colin Powell (Biography Today) (2010): 1. Biography Reference

            Center. Web. 13 Dec. 2011.

"Colin Powell Quotes - BrainyQuote." Famous Quotes at BrainyQuote. Web. 05 Jan.

2012. .

Jacobs, Robert, and Jacobs Robert. "Colin Powell." Great Lives From History: The

            Twentieth Century (2008): 1. Biography Reference Center. Web. 14 Dec. 2011.

"Online NewsHour: Convention Speeches -- General Colin Powell -- August 12,

            1996." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Web. 14 Dec. 2011. >.

Stevenson, Keira. "Colin Powell." Colin Powell (2005): 1. Biography Reference Center.

            Web. 14 Dec. 2011.

Page created on 8/3/2013 9:30:31 PM

Last edited 1/4/2017 11:32:30 PM

Related Links

Colin Powell Biography-Academy of Achievement - Learn more about Colin Powell's incredible life
WashingtonSpeakersBureau - Hear speeches from General Powell himself
Amazon - Purchase a copy of Powell's autobiography,
America's Promise Alliance - Donate and support the "America's Promise" association