WASHINGTON — Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognized the 15 year anniversary of the start of its mission with a celebration event at the Ronald Reagan Building. Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen was joined by Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretaries Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff, and John Kelly, as well as past and present DHS employees and leadership. The event was an opportunity to celebrate the momentous anniversary and recommit to DHS’s mission to safeguard the American people. Secretary Nielsen delivered remarks regarding what the Department is doing to combat the persistent and evolving threats facing our country. She also participated in a panel discussion with the former secretaries in attendance regarding how DHS has evolved since 2003. Additionally, she recognized employees from all of the DHS components.
“Today, DHS is on a strong and steady course,” Secretary Nielsen said during her keynote address. “Our workforce is empowered, committed, and proud to serve. And we are working hard to fulfill President Trump’s commitment to make America safe and secure.”
“Each of you, and those of you that might be looking on in this agency across the country, have answered the call of service,” said Vice President Mike Pence in his remarks. “You’ve considered the people of this country more important than yourself. You’ve dedicated your lives to protecting the homeland and for 15 years, you’ve done just that, with distinction and with integrity. And the American people are grateful.”
Several DHS employees who have been with the Department since its creation also had the opportunity to speak. Excerpts from their remarks are below:
“We as a Department are united as one to protect our great nation, defend it from harm, and always remain vigilant,” said Patrick Orender with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“In the heavy days after 9/11, there were so many ideas about how to better protect, secure, and prepare this nation,” said Katie Fox with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “With that came a sense of urgency and an incredible sense of duty to do the right thing for those who had suffered so greatly.”
“My experience with DHS has been incredible and filled with opportunities,” said Scott Santoro with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. “I want to thank my leadership, the secretary, and all of you for what you’re doing to combat crime…thank you and thank you for the opportunity.”
“DHS is unique because of the remarkable mission being carried out by remarkable people,” said Daniel Sutherland, Associate General Counsel of DHS.
“For 15 years now, it has been my honor to serve with the men and women of ICE,” said Wen-Ting Cheng with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “To stand with enforcement and removal operations, and protecting public safety through the faithful enforcement of our immigration laws.”
“While I am proud of my accomplishments, as I am of the achievements of my distinguished colleagues, I would in fact trade it all in for a seat on any one of four flights on 9/11,” said Donald Anderson with the Transportation Security Administration.
“At USCIS, I’m honored to work with people who tirelessly devote themselves to ensure we provide the right benefits to the right person at the right time,” said Leslie Hope with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“We are a tight knit family at the Coast Guard Yard,” said Adam Cole with the U.S. Coast Guard. “The Coast Guard is such a great place to work – it has blessed me and so many others with opportunities to have a secure career, provide for my family, and simultaneously serve my nation.”
“When we were transferred to the newly created Department of Homeland Security, we brought our unique skillset and integrated mission of investigations and protective operations to ensure that our children would never have to witness another day like September 11, 2001,” said Ronald Rowe with the U.S. Secret Service. “We brought our legacy of excellence which is a product of the highly skilled Secret Service workforce who are dedicated to service and are committed to lay down their lives, if necessary, to protect our nation’s highest elected officials.”
Watch the full event here.