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PA State Museum commemorates 9/11 anniversary with new exhibition


On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Col. Paul J. Evanko, then head of the Pennsylvania State Police now retired, raced to a state emergency command center as soon as he heard the first plane had hit the World Trade Center in Manhattan.
What he did not know is how he and his colleagues would be drawn into the attacks minutes later when the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a rural field in western Pennsylvania.
“Witness to History: Col. Paul Evanko’s 9/11 Field Notes” features Evanko’s actual handwritten field notes from the morning of 9/11. These unique documents, which Evanko donated to the Pennsylvania State Archives in 2016, are on public display for the very first time. They detail the rapid unfolding of events and offer a minute-by-minute accounting of decisions made to secure the crash site and protect Pennsylvanians.

“Witness to History” is co-presented by the Pennsylvania State Archives and The State Museum of Pennsylvania. WITF Public Media provided video commentary from Evanko.
“Witness to History” opens on Thursday, Sept. 9, and is on display through Sunday, Jan. 2, at the State Museum of Pennsylvania adjacent to the State Capitol in Harrisburg.
For more information on the documents on display in the exhibition, read “Col. Paul J. Evanko’s Field Notes from 9/11” in the Summer 2021 issue of Pennsylvania Heritage. Visit

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