As preparations for the funeral service got under way at the National Cathedral Friday morning, Secretary of State Colin Powell took time to speak to The Early Show about the man he served during the last years of President Reagan's administration.
"It's a sad day for me, but also a day of celebration," Secretary Powell says, "He's a wonderful man who lived a full and long life. He served his nation in so many ways. He was not only my boss and commander-in-chief, both in my capacity as a soldier, but also as his national security adviser, we became very good friends, both during the two years I worked with him and in the year after he retired, as I did with Nancy Reagan. It's a sad day, but we're celebrating a life well lived."
From 1987 to '89, Secretary of State Colin Powell was appointed as President Reagan's security adviser in the wake of the.
Remembering the late president, Secretary Powell tells co-anchor Hannah Storm there are many lessons he learned from the late president:
"How to stay calm in the midst of turmoil.
"How to have a vision and never lose sight of that vision no matter what storms come along.
"How to have a sense of humor to break the tension.
"How to make sure the vision you have is the same vision people working for you have, so you can accomplish things as a team.
"Above all, the optimism that he showed in everything he did, in the way he walked, the way he talked, his facial expressions: 'Things are going to be all right. Here comes Ronald Reagan. Look at me. I believe in America. Therefore, you should believe in America.' It was infectious, affecting people around the world, who believed in him."
Reflecting on the present challenges of rebuilding America's international relationships in the wake of some deep divisions over the war in Iraq, Secretary Powell says, in a way our leaders are doing just what President Reagan would have wanted: "Reach out to our friends and partners.'
He notes, "There are going to be disagreements.. He took actions not widely accepted: The work we were doing to help the Contras in Central America; the introduction of intermediate range missiles into Europe. These were not popular actions. They were met with considerable resistance in Europe and Central America. But they turned out to be the right thing to do.
"So when you know you have to do something and you're confident it's the right thing to do, do it, even though it may result in temporary disfavor. If you've done the right thing, those partners will come back and join you in that greater effort.
"I think what we've seen in recent days, in Rome last weekend and in Paris as well as the beaches of Normandy and at Sea Island with the G-8 the last few days is, President Bush is bringing an international consensus to bear on our efforts in Iraq. And I think the unanimous vote on the U.N. resolution is an example of that. We know we need friends and partners. We've always known that. But friends and partners also need leadership to accomplish a great purpose. And I think President Bush has provided that leadership in many areas."
And yet the president has announced that he doesor to bolster American forces in Iraq. Asked if this is a setback, Secretary Powell says, "No, none of us went to Sea Island or saw the with the expectation that suddenly a door would be open and there stood large numbers of additional NATO troops.
"Sixteen of the 26 nations of NATO have troops in Iraq now. A number of countries, such as France and Germany, said they'd not be providing troops. We had no illusions that they would suddenly reverse that position.
"What we have seen, though, is that they're all coming together politically to endorse the plan that we are on, and some will be making additional contributions, police training, finances - assistance in other ways. And also keep in mind that the Iraqi sovereign government is really interested in building up its own troops. They're not that anxious to see additional foreign troops come, except perhaps to defend the U.N. personnel that will be coming back.
"Our real focus should be on building up Iraqi forces so they can take care of themselves. Even though additional contributions of foreign troops would be useful to relieve the burden on our troops, but the priority has to be build up Iraqi troops."