WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Eighteen years after 9/11 the first Secretary of Homeland Security says vigilance prevails.

Tom Ridge is the Honorary Chairman of A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier.  He hit the ceremonial first shot of the event on Thursday morning on the Old White TPC.  The former Pennsylvania Governor was tapped by President George W. Bush days after the September 11th attacks in 2001 to head up and help create the Department of Homeland Security.

Ridge tells MetroNews although time has passed, there has been no letup in the fight against terror by the agency he helped to create. .

“Unfortunately the threat of terror exists forevermore. But we haven’t let down our guard and that’s one of the reasons we remain as strong and have been vigilant and that’s why we’ve been fortunate to date to not have had any additional incidents to match the horror of 9/11,” said Ridge.

One of the key problems in the U.S. homeland security operation which was exposed by the attacks was inter-agency cooperation. Ridge and his team were tasked with pulling together longtime rival agencies and fostering a culture of sharing information and working together. He said that happened and continues to happen today.

“Complacency is always a potential problem, but I think Americans are maybe are less anxious than they were the first couple of years after 9/11 and perhaps more confident in the ability to detect and prevent. But I’ll tell you this, the professionals haven’t lost thier focus or discipline. They’ve got their eye on keeping America safer and more secure.”