Former Sec. of State Colin Powell will be remembered Friday in a memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
Powell died on Oct. 18 at the age of 84 from complications of COVID-19. Though he had been vaccinated against the virus, he was battling multiple myeloma — a blood cancer that breaks down a person's immune system.
Powell was born in 1937 in New York City. He joined the Army at a young age, eventually rising to the rank of general.
After serving in the Vietnam War, Powell held several top military and defense positions in the federal government. He rose through the ranks in the national security adviser's office and served in the role under President Ronald Reagan from 1987 to 1989.
He later served as the chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
As chairman, Powell oversaw the war in the Persian Gulf and Operation Desert Storm.
But Powell is best known for serving as secretary of state under President George W. Bush during Bush's first term. Powell served as America's top diplomat during the Sept. 11 terror attacks and amid the start of the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
In the lead-up to the war in Iraq, Powell appeared in front of the United Nations to lay out the Bush administration's case for initiating the conflict. While he told the UN that he was concerned about Iraq's weapons program, his testimony included faulty intelligence. He later admitted that his testimony to the UN was a "blot" on his record.
Powell was the first Black man to serve as secretary of state. In Bush's second term, he would relinquish his post to Condoleezza Rice, a Black woman.
Powell's memorial service is scheduled to begin at noon ET on Friday.