Secretary of Homeland Security speaks at Westminster College

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FULTON - United States Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson spoke to students, faculty and Missouri residents as a part of the 2015 Hancock Symposium.

"As Secretary of this large department with all its resources, I know we must guard against the dangers of over-reaction in the name of homeland security," he said. 

Johnson discussed how the times have changed since the 1950s when President Harry Truman and Winston Churchill spoke. But, the one thing that has remained the same is our first judgement of people in society.

"Today the global terrorist threat to our homeland is evolving. It is no longer limited to terrorist threats that are recruited, trained, equipped and directed overseas and then exported to the homeland," he said. 

Toward the end of his speech, Johnson suggested that students pursue a career in public service.

"We need smart, talented and energetic young people to serve their country, their state or their community," Johnson said. 

Johnson was honored before he spoke by Westminster and the president, Benjamin Akande, with an honorary degree.

"Thank you also for bestowing on me an honorary degree. Most of all, it is honor for me to give the 56th Green Foundation Lecture at Westminster," he said. 

While Johnson is only the fourth secretary of Homeland Security, it is not the first time someone in his position has spoke at Westminster. Michael Chertoff spoke to the Westminster community in October 2007. 

Johnson joins an well-known list of speakers that have delivered Green Lectures.

"Years from now, when learned historians look at the list of Green Lecturers that includes the names Truman, Ford, Bush, Gorbachev, Walesa, and Thatcher, they will say: 'Who the heck is Jeh Johnson,'" he said. 

This year's theme for the symposium is "Security versus Liberty: Balancing the Scales of Freedom."

Westminster cancels classes for these two days to offer students the chance to take part in the symposium. 

"As a Westminster student I am really lucky that I get to be apart of this and see all these speakers and lecturers because it is a really unique experience," said Westminster junior Zachary Stafford.

Stafford even could see himself pursuing a future job within the department after the speech.

"The Department of Homeland Security, as bad as its gotten raps, its not really that bad. It really does a lot of other things other than looking for terrorist activity and it does a lot of things that are interesting that I could be interested in for my field," he said.