MATTESON, Ill. - At a south suburban middle school named in his honor, Colin Powell was remembered not only as a military hero and diplomat, but also for his kindness and humility.
He was also honored with a moment of silence Monday morning.
Elected leaders and school officials gathered and made remarks about the loss of the school's namesake over the PA system Monday.
Matteson's Colin Powell Middle School was dedicated in 2006.
Other names were considered but officials said Powell won out easily.
"The charge is mine to make sure that I instill his values in our students," said Principal Jason Black Streeter. "I live by the mantra ‘attitude reflects leadership.’ To his family I give my deepest condolences and send my prayers and well wishes."
Powell would later send a letter to students at the school saying "of the many awards and honors over the years … nothing pleases me more than to have a wonderful school named after me. That means, however, that I have high expectations for all of you. So, listen to your teachers, study hard, be respectful of one another and do your very best!"
While Powell was not at the school for the dedication, he did visit not long after, insisting on no publicity.
School board member Veronica Franklin said her niece was an eighth grader when Powell dropped by unexpectedly, and remembers it well.
"Kids were running through the building saying ‘I can’t wait to tell my parents, they’re never gonna believe I just met Colin Powell.’ So it was a great moment for our school. A moment that will go down in history," Franklin said.
U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) said she worked to get the school named for Powell.
"He was such a respected man by so many people, it didn’t matter the party, the place, the race. He just garnered so much respect because of how he carried himself and the things that he did when you think about his career," Kelly said.
The flag outside the school flew at half-staff to mark the sad day.