HARRISBURG, pa. (WHTM) — In 2001, Tom Ridge was into his 7th year serving as Governor of Pennsylvania. Then on September 11, two hijacked jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, killing thousands of people. Another crashed into the Pentagon. And a fourth crashed into a field near Shanksville in Somerset County, Pennsylvania as the passengers attempted to retake the plane from the terrorists who hijacked it.
Ridge was in Erie that day; as soon as he learned about the attacks he returned to Harrisburg by helicopter. Later that day he flew out to Shanksville to observe the scene for himself, and address reporters who had gathered there.
Get daily news, weather, breaking news and alerts straight to your inbox! Sign up for the abc27 newsletters here
A few days later he got a call from the White House.
On September 20, at a joint session of Congress, Pres. George W. Bush announced the creation of the new Office of Homeland Security, to be headed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge.
This set off a flurry of activity in Harrisburg. Preparations had to be made for Governor Ridge to resign his office, and for Lieutenant Governor Mark Schweiker to become Governor.
On October 5, 2001, Schweiker was sworn in, and Ridge left for Washington to bring together dozens of agencies in what would, in 2003, become the Department of Homeland Security.
On that day Debra Pinkerton did two stories for abc27, one about Tom Ridge’s career up to that point, and another about the change of leadership.