By Paul Burton

BOSTON (CBS) — The late Colin Powell certainly made an impact here in Massachusetts. “If it had not been for the 54th we probably wouldn’t have a Colin Powell,” said Liz Vizza, President of the Friends of the Public Garden.

In 1997, Powell spoke at the Centennial Celebration of the Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Monument in Boston.

“He stood right here and said I am standing on the shoulders of the men behind me. If it wasn’t for the 54th I would not be here today as your leader,” Vizza said.

Colin Powell speaks at the Centennial Celebration of the Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Monument in Boston in 1997 (WBZ-TV)

Powell also spent time in Worcester. In 2014, he took center stage at the Hanover Theatre addressing the entire Worcester Public Schools students, teachers, and staff as part of the distinguished speakers’ program.

“I think there were some obvious reasons for him to speak to especially inner-city kids in Worcester. Obviously, being a person of color its important for everyone to know you can achieve greatness no matter who you are,” said Lisa Condit, Hanover Theatre Vice President of Communication.

Powell was stationed at Fort Devens in the 1960s having joined the Army Reserve Officer Training Corp. It was here where he would meet his wife. The two would eventually marry and have three children.

“I remember him talking about driving to western Mass. to see his love way back in the day. She was in Cambridge and he would go visit her all of the time. It was fun to get an insight into the person behind all of the greatness he achieved,” Condit said.

Boston College history Professor Seth Jacobs said as many accolades Colin Powell achieved his legacy will also be remembered for going before the UN and making the case for the US war against Iraq.

“I’m afraid Powell legacy will be in great part defined by making a pitch for the war in Iraq. No one had the eminence of Colin Powell, no one could’ve delivered that message and make it so convincing than Colin Powell,” Jacobs said.

Paul Burton