CAPE GIRARDEAU — More than 1,600 people were at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau on Tuesday night to hear retired general, statesman and author Colin Powell deliver his speech, “Diplomacy: Persuasion, Trust and Values.”
Powell said that as he travels around the country speaking and meeting people, he is always reminded that there are problems.
He compared the economic crisis with the problems that faced our Founding Fathers and the compromises they had to make in order to found the country.
“That fact that our current leadership, from both political parties, can’t come together on something like the budget when the Founders came together for a few months in Philadelphia to build a country is disgraceful,” Powell said.
Powell also spoke about education.
“We have to become a nation of graduates,” he said. “We must mobilize ourselves to educate our children. What we have now is a travesty,” he said to applause.
Regarding national security, Powell said the country is safer now than it was in the days before 9/11 and applauded the efforts of President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama in keeping it safe.
About leadership, Powell said he learned what it takes to solve problems from Ronald Reagan.
“What President Reagan taught me is that a leader needs to see beyond the tactical problems that they face and to empower the people in their organization with the ability to solve problems.”
Powell added that the role of a leader is to also take care of those he leads, something he learned from his career in the Army.
“You have to give the people in your organization a sense of purpose,” he said. “A sense of purpose for not just the job they are doing but for what their job does for the community and how it is helping people. Those who perform their job well in an organization should be recognized for their good work, as it creates trust between the leader and the team.” Powell ended his speech with optimism.
“We’re still No. 1, trust me,” He said. “We’re still the one that all countries look to for answers, the one they look to because of our power and uniqueness. We’re still the same country that greeted my parents when they came here 90 years ago on a banana boat from Jamaica. We’ll continue to lead the world so long as we never forget that we are supposed to dedicate ourselves to freedom.”