By Ruthie Weissmann and Laura Italiano, The New York Post
The country’s most famous military recruiting center has a patriotic new look — right in time for Veterans Day.
The Times Square Recruiting Station reopened Friday after a $2 million renovation, including a modernized interior and flashy, red, white and blue LED displays worthy of the Crossroads of the World.
“It’s certainly the most iconic recruiting station that the US military has,” Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak told The Post.
“It’s the most historic and certainly has the most recognition among the thousands of recruiting offices around the world.”
A recruiting office for all four military services — Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines — has occupied the tiny traffic median where Broadway crosses Seventh Avenue since 1946, Harencak said.
While the new facility is only 520 square feet, it’s still the busiest walk-in recruiting center in the country.
Some 2,600 Air Force prospects alone visit each year.
(Learn More. Courtesy of YouTube and VETERANS COMING HOME (VCH), an innovative public media project exploring the lives of post-9/11 veterans, the divide between them and their communities, and the stereotypes that veterans and civilians hold about each other. Why does this divide exist? How does it affect communities across the country? And why does it matter? Learn more about the Veterans Coming Home project at www.VeteransComingHome.org)
“It’s absolutely wonderful,” said Harencak, who commands US Air Force recruiting efforts worldwide.
The revamp includes a state-of-the-art security-camera system and improved, blast-proof glass, he noted — all nods to a still-unsolved 2008 pipe bombing at the facility.
(Tourists and residents in New York said the blast in Times Square on Thursday morning, March 6, 2008, reminded them that they are vulnerable to an attack at anytime. Courtesy of AP Archive and YouTube. Posted on Jul 31, 2015)
“It fits now totally with all of Times Square — the screens and videos and LED lighting. It’s also much better for the recruiters who have to man it every day.”
Friday’s opening ceremony featured the requisite pomp and fanfare of a marching band, the swearing in of a new batch of 15 recruits and a ribbon-cutting by brass from the four armed services.
Harencak said he was honored to take part.
Although now stationed in California, he grew up just seven miles away from Times Square in Elmwood Park, NJ.
Often, on childhood trips to the city, he’d see the old recruiting station as a beacon to a new life of service and adventure.
The new LED display of an American flag drew rave reviews from tourists.
“I was pretty excited to see it,” said Norma Rodriguez, 28, of Houston.
“You can see the flag from pretty far away. The colors are so bright. I think it’s great that it’s here in Times Square.
It really means a lot at the end of the day to have it here.”