Tom Ridge resigned as governor of Pennsylvania on October 5, 2001 and assumed the position of Head of Homeland Security three days later. His state had been touched by the September 11 tragedies when one of the four hijacked airliners crashed in western Pennsylvania, killing all 44 people aboard. In discussing the new appointee, President Bush described him as “a distinguished American to lead this effort, to strengthen American security: a military veteran, an effective governor, a tree patriot, a masted friend.”
The task of the Homeland Security office — essentially to coordinate government efforts to prevent terrorism before it happens and respond if it does — is a daunting one and requires somebody tough and uncompromising to take a leadership role in the fight against terrorism. Ridge’s two terms as governor, 12 years as a member of Congress and his proven strong focus on fighting crime (as governor, Ridge signed a bill requiring trigger locks on guns and another making it a felony for convicted felons to possess guns) will prove invaluable.
Ridge’s own comment on his appointment was understated: “It is an honor to serve your country at any time, but more so now than ever. I’m saddened that this job is even necessary. But it is.” ♦