As designed, the Department of Defense has taken the lead role on foreign soil in the fight against the terrorist elements in Afghanistan and Iraq. Domestically, in one of the US’ first steps in this same fight, the Department of Homeland Security was created.

I have worked side-by-side with scores of the civil servants and political appointees in DHS since its inception. With very few exceptions, these people are smart, honest, dedicated, motivated and working every day to make our nation safer and better prepared for response to the acts of terrorists. Despite political bickering, one-upmanship, concerns about strategies, and, yes, a few blunders, we have a nation today that is in fact safer and better prepared to respond to devastating events.

Terrorists and ideologues can take many forms. They can be found anywhere and can act at any time. By now, we are all familiar with radical elements of Islam (Al Qaeda, Hamas), Christianity (abortion clinic bombers, KKK), environmentalism (ALF, ELF) and disgruntled US citizens (McVeigh, Kaczynski) who have chosen to use violence as their means of dialogue. Don’t forget that we have Mother Nature to contend with too. None of these threats will ever be “defeated” which is all the more reason to be grateful that the Department of Homeland Security is running.

It is unfortunate that 9/11/01 was the impetus for creating an agency with the mission of DHS, but as of 9/11/08, we’re better off for it. To the people of DHS and all who serve the homeland security mission: thank you.