Aboard Air Force Two
Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, guys. It’s going to be very windy out there, so I thought I would take a moment to just talk with you for a second about Secretary Powell. What an extraordinary public servant, American patriot.
I last saw him in July at the dinner — it was a small dinner — that the President hosted for Chancellor Angela Merkel; she had breakfast with me that morning at the residence. And Secretary Powell and I had a chance to catch up.
You know, what an incredible American. He obviously served with dignity; he served with grace. He was the epitome of what it means to be strong but, at the same time, so modest in terms of everything that he did and said, in a way that it was never about him, it was about the country and it was about the people who served with him.
He — we talked a bit about the challenges of this moment. And as you all know, he was very supportive of the President and the work that we needed to get done.
But I just want to say that, also, you know, he as the first Black person, Black man to be Joint Chiefs — Chairman of the Joint Chiefs; to be National Security Advisor; to be Secretary of State — every step of the way, when he filled those roles, he was, by everything that he did and the way he did it, inspiring so many people. And there’s been a lot of conversation about that — how young service members and others, not only in the military, but in our nation and around the globe, took notice of what his accomplishments meant as a reflection of who we are as a nation.
And I think that’s one of the most important things to take away, which is that he broke so many barriers, and those barriers were not easy to break by any stretch. But he did it with dignity. He did it with grace. And because of what he was able to accomplish, it really did elevate our nation in so many ways.
So, may he rest in peace.
Q What is your message for Americans who know that he was fully vaccinated with COVID, who are — now remain skeptical about getting the vaccine, despite the fact that, yes, he did have a cancer diagnosis as well?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: well, I don’t think that — what happened in terms of his health situation is exactly what the doctors have told us can happen — right? — in terms of people who are immunocompromised, people who have preexisting conditions.
I think it’s — today is a day to really reflect on the life of the man and his extraordinary service, and not to politicize the efficacy of vaccines.