Over the past year and throughout my career, I've visited communities hit by natural disasters across the country and spoken with a number of Americans dealing with the aftermath of terrorist attacks.
What always strikes me about the days and months that follow these tragedies is the resilience that emerges in the communities that are affected. The recovery in New York after 9/11, in New Orleans after Katrina, and in Greensburg, Kansas after the devastating tornado in 2007 all demonstrate the extraordinary ability of citizens to come together after disasters to rebuild stronger than before.
This resilience displayed by individual American citizens persists long after the cameras are gone, and it's every bit as important to our security as the government's immediate response.
Tonight, I'll be speaking at the Kennedy School of Government about the Department of Homeland Security's approach to confronting the new and evolving threats we face – from terrorism and violent extremism to cyber attacks and natural disasters.
The public deserves a candid assessment of the threats America faces. And that includes talking about the shared responsibility for securing our nation.
The federal government cannot prepare for, respond to, and recover from major crises on its own. Our ability to effectively prevent, disrupt and respond to terrorist attacks, violent extremism, and other major disasters relies upon Americans working together – preparing emergency plans, notifying law enforcement when we see something suspicious, and helping our fellow citizens rebuild when disasters do strike.
As President Obama has said, and the experiences of New York, New Orleans, and Greensburg have shown, in confronting threats, the American people are the source of our greatest strength.
I hope you'll watch the address at the Kennedy School Forum tonight, and learn more about how we can all take steps to be more informed, ready, and resilient. Watch live at 6:00 p.m. EDT at The Forum LIVE at Harvard.edu.
Janet Napolitano is Secretary of Homeland Security