TSA recognizes today as the day it was established 20 years ago

National Press Release
Friday, November 19, 2021
TSA Administrator David Pekoske delivers remarks at the TSA 20th Anniversary Ceremony (DHS photo by Ben Applebaum)

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recognized the 20th anniversary of the agency’s creation today with a special ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport’s original Terminal A historic lobby.

The livestreamed ceremony included a written message from President George W. Bush and special remarks by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas and TSA Administrator David Pekoske. Former DHS Secretary (2005-2009) Michael Chertoff served as the keynote speaker. Other aspects of the event included the Colors presented by Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) Color Guard, music (National Anthem and God Bless America) sung by a Transportation Security Officer, and videos honoring TSA’s first 20 years.

“TSA was created from tragedy to protect the nation’s transportation systems and as one nation, we must respond to defend and protect the United States of America,” said Secretary Mayorkas speaking at the anniversary event. “As TSA marks the 20th year since its creation, they remain steadfast in the mission, standing firmly on the front lines of our country’s leadership in security, and raising the bar for global aviation security.”

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks at TSA's 20th Anniversary Ceremony
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks at the TSA's 20th Anniversary Ceremony (DHS photo by Ben Applebaum)

On this date and in this DCA terminal 20 years ago, then President Bush signed and enacted into law the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), and established the Transportation Security Administration to safeguard the nation’s transportation system against the threat of a future attack. Congress passed and the President established this agency in only 68 days following the horrific events of 9/11. Over the course of two decades, TSA’s screening process evolved from its origins in which the pat-down was the major element in screening to be the agency that deploys technology and pilots emerging tech for improvements in security that also reduce physical contact between officers and passengers.

“It is a privilege to recognize and honor the TSA workforce – past, present and future, for its enduring role in safeguarding the nation’s transportation system and ensuring freedom of movement within the United States,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “Success in that mission lies in the commitment of a professional and highly skilled team focused on technologies and processes that enhance security.”

Today’s event kicks off a historical review of events as they occurred following the establishment of TSA. The theme for this year-long campaign is 20 Years Protecting the Nation: Remembering Our Past, Securing Our Future. As an essential aspect of our history, TSA employees shared their stories on what the 20th anniversary of TSA means to them. For more information, please visit: TSA’s Remembering our past, securing our future.

A recording of the TSA 20th Anniversary Ceremony Video can be found on TSA’s YouTube page.