As Department of Homeland Security officials deal with fresh plots to detonate a vehicle-borne bomb in New York or Washington, the department’s top leadership — current and former — is thanking the rank and file today with a video thank you message as the world marks the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Airport security screeners, Border Patrol agents, officials screening Americans back into the United States and checking passports at the border, coast guardsmen, federal building security inspectors and officials working on disaster recovery projects nationwide this morning will receive a link to a video message starring Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and her two predecessors, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff. The video also includes Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, U.S. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., Transportation Security Administration Administrator John Pistole and Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin. Collectively, they recall the events of ten years ago and deliver a message of thanks to their employees.
The three-minute video, intended for internal DHS distribution, was obtained by The Federal Eye from department officials. Here’s the script of a key exchange:
LUTE: “That day [Sept. 11], changed us, as Americans, as a people.”
CHERTOFF: “It brought our society together with a remarkable feeling of unity. It changed how we look at threats of terrorism.”
RIDGE: “And it led to major changes in our government. It led to the creation of this department, the Department of Homeland Security.”
SULLIVAN: “America is stronger than we were a decade ago.”
MORTON: “We have bounced back from the worst attacks ever on our soil.”
PAPP: “We’ve built a culture of resilience and have made progress on every front to protect ourselves.”
PISTOLE: “Our experience over the last 10 years also has made us smarter about the threats we face and how best to deal with them.”
FUGATE: “We have used this knowledge to make ourselves more resilient, not just to terrorist attacks, but to threats and disasters of all kinds...”
CHERTOFF: “...and much of the thanks for that goes to you...”
RIDGE: “...the men and women who work, and serve at the Department of Homeland Security.”
NAPOLITANO: “Every day you rise to the challenges that have been placed on us.”
Towards the end, Napolitano adds, “I want to express my deep appreciation and my gratitude for what you do every day to keep our country safe.”
The secretary, who along with other Obama administration officials this week has attended several 9/11 anniversary events, will travel to New York and then Boston on Sunday to meet with families of the victims of the terror attacks. She will also mark the attacks early Friday morning with DHS employees at a short ceremony outside the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, which houses Customs and Border Protection headquarters.
Separately, the Office of Personnel Management is holding an event in Washington on Friday to honor the federal employees killed on 9/11.
And as the anniversary nears, we want to know how the attacks changed the lives and work of federal employees. Share your thoughts with us and we’ll post them later today and through the weekend.
Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost