WASHINGTON – Today, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. joined Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas and hundreds of DHS employees in holding a special ceremony at the DHS Headquarters at St. Elizabeths Campus in Washington, DC to honor the workforce and to recognize the approximately 32,000 plank holders who joined DHS on its first day and continue to serve today. The ceremony, which marked the 20th anniversary of the Department’s creation, included special remarks by President Biden, Secretary Mayorkas, and recorded messages from former President George W. Bush and former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge.
“The Department of Homeland Security was formed out of the tragedy of 9/11, but with an unshakeable resolve of a sacred mission to secure our country and to protect the American people,” said President of the United States Joseph R. Biden, Jr.. “Because of you, America is safer, it’s stronger, and it’s better prepared to meet whatever threat we face.”
“Our Department will continue to evolve and meet the challenges not only of today, but those of tomorrow,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “I express confidence in the security of our future because of you – your talent and your tireless dedication to mission. The foundation of the work we perform now and will perform in the years ahead is the legacy of your service over the past twenty years. Thank you for everything you do.”
“Twenty years ago, I asked Congress to join me in creating a new, unified department with an overriding and urgent mission: securing the homeland of America and protecting the American people” said former President of the United States George W. Bush. “The Department of Homeland Security was established in the largest government restructuring since World War II. The people who work at DHS come to work every morning knowing their most important job is to protect their fellow citizens. You’ve worked tirelessly and effectively to do just that. I thank you for your service to our country and for the sacrifices you have made in the pursuit of keeping your neighbors safe.”
“As I have stayed in close contact with my successors, and many of the men and women with whom I proudly served originally, what has never changed is the total commitment to protect our citizens,” said former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. “The dedication of the public servants at DHS, with all of the pressures of a still young government agency is unmatched in our federal government. DHS remains the epicenter of so many of the most difficult security and political challenges, and yet you serve your country with integrity and without complaint. I'm truly blessed to have served or the nation's best and I know that today's DHS workers continue the tradition of selfless service to our country.”
“When the worst is happening, we are there,” said DHS plank holder Clifford Brown of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “We are the ones who give our brothers and sisters in America hope. We are the people on the ground saying we’re going to make this better, we're going to help you rebuild, we’re going to get stronger, we're going to protect you, we’re going to protect your borders. And to be in that environment with a group the most dedicated people on earth in the Department of Homeland Security who are willing to risk it all, and to be a part of that be able to look back and to see that you’ve been involved in so many things in this country that mean something and are important? There is no greater honor than to be a part of that.”
Secretary Mayorkas also unveiled a ceremonial American flag that had been presented to him by members of the New York City Police Department Counterterrorism Bureau following the 20th commemoration of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Over the past 14 months, it has been flown by 27 different agencies and offices in 36 different locations across the country and around the world. The new permanent flag display was placed in the St. Elizabeths ceremonial entrance. It stands as a symbol of resilience, resolve, and our everlasting memory of those whom we lost on and as a result of 9/11.
DHS will continue its anniversary celebration throughout the year, marking DHS@20 with a series of regional anniversary events and workforce awards ceremonies.
Read President Biden’s remarks on WhiteHouse.gov and read Secretary Mayorkas’s remarks on DHS.gov.
Watch the full event on YouTube.
See photos from the day on the DHS Flickr page.