As current and former secretaries of Homeland Security, we are inspired by the men and women of the department - the unsung heroes who get up each morning thinking about how they can better protect us all. They have not lost their sense of mission. Neither should we.
Their department has been built on a solid foundation. It has the right mix of missions and capabilities that include not only our efforts against terrorism but other essential homeland security functions such as responding to and recovering from natural disasters of a national scope.
We must let these dedicated people continue to build on this foundation. There are technological breakthroughs over the horizon that will create unprecedented tools to help them perform their mission. And we must encourage our homeland guardians to keep strengthening relationships at every level of government, and especially with first responders, as well as with the private sector and with our security partners around the world.
Let us remind ourselves that we are ultimately locked in a battle of ideas, centered on one key question: Is freedom a dangerous luxury that can be denied at will - or is it the birthright of every person and the ultimate basis for security? Our enemies answer one way; our founding creed tells us otherwise.
Liberty remains the most effective weapon in our arsenal. By standing for liberty, by defending freedom, by sharing our prosperity throughout the world, we can inspire genuine hope in countless hearts and minds.
Seen in this light, our toughest challenges can be our greatest opportunities. On this anniversary, let's resolve not to shrink back from them, but to meet them head-on with courage, confidence and unity.
ABOUT THE WRITERS
Michael Chertoff is secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; Tom Ridge was the first secretary of the department.
This essay is available to McClatchy-Tribune News Service subscribers. McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors. (c) 2008, Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services