On Friday, November 5, a memorial service was held for former U.S. Secretary of State and four-star general Colin Powell at the Washington National Cathedral. The speakers spoke to Powell’s leadership, patriotism and family values, creating a picture of an extraordinary human being, a man of the people and for his country.

Powell’s son Michael Powell talked about holding his dad’s hand during the final days, just as his dad had held his own hand when he had been in the hospital years earlier. He told about the time his dad thought he heard a noise in Michael’s car and wanted to fix it. He proceeded to take the car apart, do some tinkering and then put it back together. But then the car would only go backwards. So Powell drove it backwards for three miles to the service station, grinning all the while.

Powell’s close friend Richard Armitage, a former military man, diplomat and government official, told of the time Powell dropped to his knees and sang Mama Mia to an amused foreign minister from Sweden. And, on a more serious note, Armitage said that if he called Powell on a Sunday morning, Powell would always say, “I’m in a state of grace,” meaning in church. Armitage noted that Powell was always in a “state of grace.”

In addition to Powell’s family, the audience included President Barack Obama and Michelle and President George W. Bush and Laura. Former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright both spoke movingly about Powell’s leadership and humanity.

Powell, who gained the respect of the nation after his successful leadership of the first Gulf War, briefly considered running for President in 1996, but decided not to. Looking back, he said, “It was an ugly time, because I never expected to be approached in that way and have so much pressure on me. I’m a soldier. But after a few weeks of it (testing the political waters), I realized this is just not me. This is not what I can do.”

President Donal Trump was notably absent from the memorial service. Perhaps that’s not surprising given Trump’s typically boorish comments after Powell’s death. “Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media. Hope that happens to me someday. He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!”

Trump apparently did not appreciate Powell’s remarks shortly after the January 6 insurrection of the nation’s Capitol. Powell had said that Trump was “responsible for one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen in all my years as a government employee.” He also declared that he no longer considered himself a member of the president’s party.

Trump’s comments about Powell horrified even Michael Reagan, the son of President Ronald Reagan and a columnist who spends most of his time waving the Republican flag and bashing Democrats. “Trump simply can’t help being Trump. He can’t think beyond right now — or even beyond himself. Instead of issuing a respectful presidential statement about the death of a great American, or just shutting up, he had to get his digs in and try to make himself the top story of the day.”

Come on now, Michael: Did the behavior of the egotistical bully you supported in 2016 and 2020 really surprise you? Really? Methinks thou protest too late.

Okay, let’s contrast General Colin Powell with President Donald Trump.

Powell, the son of poor Jamaican immigrants, became a four-star general and the nation’s first African-American Secretary of State and first African-American Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, the highest military rank. Trump, conversely, was the son of a real estate developer who passed on many millions and a broken moral compass to the man who became the first twice-impeached U.S. President. Trump remains stuck in a quagmire of lawsuits for his history of misdeeds in the White House. Powell remains revered by members of both parties, past and present.

Powell was a devoted family, a loyal and faithful husband for nearly 60 years to his wife Alma. Trump has had three marriages and been sued by several women for sexual harassment and worse.

Powell, a four-star general, earned a Purple Heart during his first tour of duty and a Bronze Star a year later. Trump “earned” a deferment from military service, thereby acquiring the nickname Cadet Bone Spurs by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), who lost both legs while serving in the Iraq War.

Powell was a loyal church goer, devoted to the Episcopalian faith. Trump has seldom seen the inside of a Church, although, like a latter day Elmer Gantry, he managed to convince millions of white Christian evangelicals that as a good Christian he would fight for them in the White House by appointing “conservative” justices, meaning anti-abortion and anti-same-sex marriage justices. In fairness (satire alert), Trump managed to hold a Bible (upside down) without dropping it in front of St. John’s Church after breaking up a protest.

So there you have it: Colin Powell, a giant among generals, versus Donald Trump, a pygmy among presidents. A man who truly cared about our Republic and for which it stands versus a man who cares about nothing about himself.

On a final note, some people have suggested that I stop writing about Trump because he’s no longer President. I can’t do that because Trump remains very much in charge of one of our two major political parties and until the Republican Party leadership dumps Trump, I will continue to bash him.

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected]

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