USAF Col. Michael W. Hazen, Ret. speaks at the American Legion Post 90 during Thursday’s Veterans Day event. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
U.S. Air Force Col. Michael W. Hazen, Ret, was the guest speaker at Thursday morning’s Veterans Day celebration at American Legion Post 90 in Los Alamos. Hazen is the Los Alamos National Laboratory Associate Director for Environment, Safety, Health, Quality, Safeguards, and Security.
Hazen served in the Air Force for more than 31 years. His first Air Force assignment was as a Strategic Air Command enlisted Security Policeman and he finished his military career as the Director of Security for Space Command, responsible for the safeguards and security of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile fleet. He commanded a Wing (Base), Group, and three Squadrons.
His speech follows in its entirety:
As I begin today, I want to acknowledge all the veterans in the audience and thank you for your service to out great country. It matters not if you served a year of 30, you chose to be a part of something greater than all of us and put service above and beyond self; to put on a uniform and serve in our nation’s military to protect our freedoms.
All across our nation, people are gathering to honor U.S. military veterans and thos men and women currently in uniform who have served and sacrificed to keep us free. Our nation owes a great debt of gratitude to these brave Americans and their families for the sacrifices they have made to preserve and protect our freedoms.
As the guns fell silent in 1918 on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, World War I, the Great War, was declared over. One year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th as Armistice Day. Unfortunately, World War I did not live up to its billing as the war to end all wars. Even more Americans fought in World War II. And of course our country has endured Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and today we have men and women around the world forever vigilant in the relentless pursuit of peace and freedom.
In 1954, Armistice Day became Veterans Day by an Act of Congress. In the Veterans Day Proclamation, General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower called upon all citizens to ‘solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom’. To this day this is a special time to honor all American veterans in whatever war or period of peace they have served.
Today, as we gather to honor those who served in uniform. I’d like to tell you about my favorite veteran. During a similar ceremony six years ago, I asked for people who served to rise by service era so that we could recognize their service. The last era was World War II. Knowing it would be a little difficult to stand, I asked only for our veteran to raise his hand. To my surprise, Sgt. Al Putman, Army Air Corps at 96 years young was quick to his feet and immediately rendered a sharp salute to the 200 veterans in attendance. As you can imagine, he moved us all and quickly an appreciative crowd rose to cheer this great American.
Al was a friend and mentor to many of us, he had a sharp memory of his work on the W-47 at Wendover, Utah, and his work with the Manhattan Project; he was proud of his service but unmatched was his love of this great country. Al didn’t talk about his service; he was much too humble for that. In fact he couldn’t because he was sworn to secrecy, but he did talk a lot about the service of others. He served as a senior civilian at Kirtland Air Force Base for more than 40 years and I’m sure that not a day went by when he didn’t proudly ‘Honor all who served’. I can still hear his simple five-word proclamation – ‘Thank you for your service’.
A final story that pulls all of this together for me: Near the end of my career, I was told of a painting I had to see in the Pentagon, located on the stairway between the third and fourth levels, it was on the outside ring of the E-ring. It was an oil painting done in the 60s by Woodi Ismael depicting the inside of the (Strategic Air Command Memorial) Chapel. A family with light streaming down on them from the stain glass windows high above were at the altar and it appears praying for the military member’s safe return. A biblical passage from Isaiah 6:8 was quoted and it asked the question, ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?’ And the reply, ‘Then said I, here I am, send me.’ Every veteran answers this call and replies, ‘Here I am, send me!’
As we join all those gathered all across this land in ‘Honoring all who Served’, we are grateful, we salute you and say those five simple words that mean so much, ‘Thank you for your service’. God bless our veteran and their families, and God bless America.