Colin Powell: The Meeting He’ll Always Remember

By Diane Dragan

In case you missed it, from our July/August issue: Colin Powell reflects on the wisdom he’s gained from his years of public service and the values that sustained him in tumultuous times, in an excerpt from his book It Worked for Me.

One way to see the greatness of our country, Powell believes, is through the eyes of young adults who come to America as part of student-exchange programs. “You never can tell what kids are really seeing (much less control it), but they are always seeing and always judging. If we can provide them with rich enough experiences, they’ll take away something good that they can use to make their own and other peoples’ lives better.”

Read the story in his own words »

Also worth a look: At a book signing at Fort Hood, Powell talks openly about the life lessons he’s learned and his 13 rules for living. One favorite? “It’s always better in the morning.”

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  • Colin Powell: The Meeting He’ll Always Remember

    Former secretary of state Colin Powell recalls two young visitors who sharpened his vision of our country’s greatness.

    By Colin Powell from "It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership"

    Colin Powell: The Meeting He’ll Always RememberPhotograph by Martin H. Simon
    In his new book, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, Colin Powell reflects on the wisdom he’s gained from his years of public service and the values that sustained him in tumultuous times. One way to see the greatness of our country, he believes, is through the eyes of young adults who come to America as part of student-exchange programs. They notice things we overlook, and they are amazed by the kindness and generosity that we sometimes take for granted. Here he shares some funny and moving memories, beginning with a program he launched in 1997 with the United Kingdom. It worked like this:

    I would find two young Americans to spend time with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, and the late Robin Cook, who was then the U.K. foreign secretary, would send a pair of young Brits to hang out with my staff. It worked great, and it was fun for me to check on how the kids were managing to wrap their brains around our vast, complex, and strange organization. It was especially fun on their last day when I’d bring the youngsters into my office and let them phone their “mums” back in the U.K. After they and their parents had rattled on awhile, I’d take the phone for a minute and chat with the parents, which always pleased everybody.

    The program continued under Jack Straw, Robin’s successor. By then, a way to improve it had come to me. “We both go out of our way to pick kids who are over-achievers and professional winners,” I told him. “Maybe you could send a couple who are not on their way to Oxford or Cambridge?”

    He got it! Did he ever! He sent two young men who were not college-bound and came with all kinds of troubles behind them. They’d had run-ins with the law. They’d been busted for drugs. Their dress was not Savile Row but council housing (public housing).

    During their two-week stay, they met important people, visited our monuments, and spent a day with me. I took them to meetings at State and even to a congressional hearing. They saw what a secretary of state actually does for a living. That afternoon, I took them to the White House, and we wandered around the fabulous 18 acres. When we got to the Rose Garden, I suggested that we check to see if the president was in the Oval Office. If he was out, we could see it. Surprise, surprise—I had called President Bush earlier and explained that I was bringing these boys with their troubled histories to the White House. I knew he would be in.

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  • Your Comments

    • Mar_june001

      can i writ it sa home readng?

    • Rusty

      The museings of the great uneducated and unwashed in many cases are always good entertainent. Get a grip and loosen up.

    • harrybrowne

      Ah yes, Colin Powell. The great hero. The man who covered up the My Lai massacre and who has been the bagman for many presidents, covering up dirty deeds. A fraud and a liar. Suckering a lot of people.

    • Svbala

      Disgusting propaganda.. if USA wants to show that they are kind, let that animal get away from other countries. Sons of Satan. Devil in the human form. The root cause of all the evil of the world is american selfish agenda..

      • Asgerard69

        I love my country, where we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

        • harrybrowne

           Really, you have freedom of speech? Can you say the n-word? Can you call a cop a pig? There are laws against “hate” speech. Why should there be?

          Get a clue, you lemming.

          • gigi94

            oh you mean you wouldn’t someone calling you a pathetic little bi*** all the time? cause that’s totally doable. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/eahfu.baou Eahfu Baou

          Yes, a freedom which relies on slaughtering innocent people around the world. Wake up America! The economy has relied on military expenditures, justified by unjust wars, for the last 60 years. That is indeed evil…

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/TTCNYCWIDR6NWDFWPRAZ7R5DDE Chief

        Thank you for your comments.  The best part of this country is that we have the freedoms to speak our mind.  Congratulations to you for doing so.  It makes me feel good to know that I spent 20 years in the Navy protecting the rights of everyone.  Having said that, I’ll exercise mine.  If you live in the United States., LEAVE!  If you don’t, DON’T COME HERE to live.  And, if you don’t live here, you can shove your remarks up the best part of your rectum.  Better yet, maybe God will expedite your trip to meet 72 virgins. 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/TTCNYCWIDR6NWDFWPRAZ7R5DDE Chief

         Thank you for your comments.  The best part of this country is that we
        have the freedoms to speak our mind.  Congratulations to you for doing
        so.  It makes me feel good to know that I spent 20 years in the Navy
        protecting the rights of everyone.  Having said that, I’ll exercise
        mine.  If you live in the United States., LEAVE!  If you don’t, DON’T
        COME HERE to live.  And, if you don’t live here, you can shove your
        remarks up the best part of your rectum.  Better yet, maybe God will
        expedite your trip to meet 72 virgins. 

      • Trotline

        Really?  THE root cause of ALL the evil?  I think the Koran has a different view, as does the Bible, the Talmud, the Bhagadad Gita, and others.  And while the USA cures diseases, heals the sick, tends the injured, feeds, clothes and cares for the worlds needs…What have you done?  Quit blaming and start helping….get busy doing good and solving problems and you won’t have the time or energy to blame others.  We await your response.