Thinking Citizen Blog — Colin Powell (1937–2021): What Should be Remembered?
Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day
Today’s Topic: Colin Powell (1937–2021): What Should be Remembered?
What should be taught about Colin Powell in elementary school, middle school, high school? What should every “thinking citizen” remember? Does it depend on their sex, race, class, or the political affiliation of their parents or teachers? Who should decide? How? Much has been written since his death on October 18th. Today, a few notes. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
A GREAT AMERICAN SUCCESS STORY — the child of two Jamaican immigrants
1. Youngest (at age 52) and first African American to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense (1989–1993).
2. The first African American to serve as US Secretary of State (2001–2005), confirmed unanimously by the US Senate. (The Secretary of State is fourth in line to be president after the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and the President pro tempore of the Senate).
3. A real life Cincinnatus to the extent that he was a great military leader who, unlike Julius Caesar, Napoleon, George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, or Dwight D. Eisenhower, turned down the opportunity to rule the nation.
NB: Personally, I regretted his decision not to run for the Presidency. Like Eisenhower, he was courted by both parties. While he decided to join the Republican party in 1995, he supported Barack Obama in 2008 after John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. He did not consider Palin to be fit to be President and thought that Obama would be an inspiration and that Biden was qualified to hold the office. He left the Republican Party in 2021 after the events of January 6th.
EXCERPTS FROM HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY, AN AMERICAN JOURNEY — PART ONE
1. “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”
2. “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stop leading them.”
3. “Never believe the first thing you hear.”
NB: “There is no end of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
EXCERPTS FROM HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY — PART TWO
1. “All work is honorable. Always do your best because someone is watching.” My personal spin: imagine your child is watching you. Live as if every action is setting an example for others.
2. “Dig up all the details you can. Then go with your instincts.”
3. “Don’t be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment. Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.”
NB: “Never neglect small details, even to the point of being a pest. Moments of stress, confusion, and fatigue are exactly when mistakes happen. And when everyone else’s mind is dulled or distracte, the leaders must be doubly vigilant. Always check small things.”
FOOTNOTE — his favorite leadership motto (origin unclear)
“A great leader is someone whose troops would follow him anywhere, if just out of curiosity…somebody who they’d follow just to see where the hell he’s going.”
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