Colin Powell, the retired four-star general who served as the nation’s first black secretary of state and devoted decades of his life to public service, is being laid to rest Friday during a private funeral at the Washington National Cathedral.
The service began at noon local time and is hosting President Biden and first lady Jill Biden in addition to two former presidents, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and their wives, Michelle Obama and Laura Bush. Former President Donald Trump is not expected to attend.
Also not in attendance is former President Bill Clinton, who had a recent hospital stay. However, former Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton is in attendance along with the White House’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The presidential guests aren’t expected to speak, but Powell’s son Michael, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage will deliver tributes during the ceremony, according to a program for the event.
Powell, who was fully vaccinated, died last month at the age of 84 from complications of COVID-19 after battling multiple myeloma — a type of blood cancer that can limit the body’s ability to fight infection, his longtime aide said previously.
In his four decades of public life, Powell was the first black man to serve as national security adviser near the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993. In the latter role, he oversaw the US invasion of Panama and later the US invasion of Kuwait to oust the Iraqi army in 1991.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Alma Powell, and their three children.