U.S. Rep. Max Rose said that it felt like coming home as he entered Fort Hamilton Army Base in Bay Ridge on March 21 to administer the oath to 13 newly enlisted servicemembers.
Rose, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island in Congress, was warmly greeted with salutes and handshakes as he entered the New York Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).
Rose, the first post-9/11 combat veteran to represent New York City, administered the oath to the new enlistees in the room where he took the oath of service nine years ago.
That room is dedicated to the memory of Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Michael Murphy, a United States Navy officer who was killed in action on June 28, 2005 while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Rose himself served as an active duty officer in Afghanistan from 2012-2013 and earned a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Combat Infantry Badge.
Rose is Ranger-qualified and continues to serve in the Guard. He currently serves on the House Committees on Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, and is chairperson of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.
U.S. Air Force Captain Brandon Schmidt welcomed the new recruits and introduced Rose, who delivered a heartfelt invocation offering the servicemembers words of wisdom from his own experience.
“Life changes pretty fast,” said Rose. “You all have every right in the world to be nervous right now, anxious, even a little scared. But I want you to be proud—proud of yourselves, proud of your families for supporting you. Because you’re the best this country has to offer, you really are. The best of the best. Hold your head high, all right.”
He told the recruits that their lives would never be the same again and while people will thank them for their service for the rest of their lives, others will never understand what they’ll be doing. “The reason is because you’ll be part of the elite,” Rose said.
“You’re different now, you’re special,” he went on. “And that comes with honor, but that also comes with extra responsibility. Gone are the days where things are fair. Your lives will never be fair, ever again. Now everyone’s going to expect more from you, and you’re going to give it to them, because the entire country is dependent on you. So from the bottom of my heart, as a citizen and a congressman, but also as a vet—thank you for what you’re doing.”
Before the ceremony, Lt. Col. Patricia JonesJohnson, commander, New York Military Entrance Processing Station, offered Rose and his staff a tour of MEPS.
Following the ceremony Rose greeted each newly enlisted servicemember and took photos with them all. He called the entire service an incredibly emotional experience.
“I’m just truly impressed and overjoyed that our nation’s security is in good hands,” Rose told this paper. “In the big picture, this is what America looks like in that room, people coming from all over, some of them first generation, all putting up their hands saying, ‘Look, I’m a patriot and I’m going to do my part.’ That’s what America looks like. And that’s what America is all about.”