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The retired four-star general of the United States Army was on his way to an appointment at the Walter Reed military hospital for an exam when the front left tire of his vehicle blew out. Powell, a “car guy,” knew how to change the tire and immediately set to work. However, due to the cold, the lug bolts were extremely tight.
Powell jacked up his car and was working on the stubborn bolts when he realized that a car had pulled over in front of his car, and the man inside was hopeful he could help.
“As the man got out of his car, I could see that he had an artificial leg,” Powell wrote. “He said he recognized me and wanted to help me.”
Powell, 81, learned that the man, a veteran, lost his leg in Afghanistan where he worked as a civilian employee. “He grabbed the lug wrench and finished the job as I put the tools away,” Powell wrote. “Then we both hurriedly headed off to appointments at Walter Reed.” Although Powell didn’t get the man’s name or address to thank him personally, the two did take a selfie together.
The man later reached out to Powell on Facebook, with Powell sharing what he wrote: “Gen. Powell, I hope I never forget today because I’ll never forget reading your books. You were always an inspiration, a leader and statesman. After 33 years in the military you were the giant whose shoulders we stood upon to carry the torch to light the way and now it is tomorrow’s generation that must do the same. Anthony Maggert.”
Powell — who has a long history serving his nation, including serving as the first, and so far only, Jamaican-American on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the first black person to serve as the secretary of state, under President George W. Bush — was moved by the man’s message.
“You touched my soul and reminded me about what this country is all about and why it is so great,” Powell wrote. “Let’s stop screaming at each other. Let’s just take care of each other. You made my day.”
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