Editor's Letter is an introduction to the contents and themes of each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage by the editor.

Twenty years ago, Pennsylvania became the setting for one of the most tragic but heroic episodes in recent U.S. history, when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a meadow in Somerset County after passengers fought back at al-Qaeda hijackers who had planned to use the aircraft for an attack on an unknown target in Washington, D.C.

In this issue we mark the somber anniversary of 9/11 with the feature “The Man for the Moment.” Peter Durantine, a journalist who for many years covered Pennsylvania government and politics, recounts the 9/11 narrative from the perspective of Tom Ridge, following a recent interview Durantine had with the former Pennsylvania governor and U.S. secretary of homeland security. Ridge recalls evocative memories of that day, from the instant when he learned about the attacks from his home in Erie to his arrival at the Flight 93 crash site by Chinook helicopter. The article proceeds to Ridge’s vital role in the response to the attacks, serving initially as the president’s assistant in the temporary U.S. Office of Homeland Security and then, a year later, as the first Cabinet secretary heading the newly established Department of Homeland Security, which consolidated 22 related Executive Branch agencies. Also, in this edition’s Our Documentary Heritage department, Richard Saylor highlights the Flight 93 field notes of former Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Paul J. Evanko, part of a remarkable collection of materials related to the crash that Evanko donated to the Pennsylvania State Archives in 2016.

Two other features in this issue take us back to 19th-century Pennsylvania, focusing on individuals who observed and documented the everyday lives of people in their surrounding communities—one through vivid essays, the other through a series of drawings with handwritten captions.

From My Own Observation and Familiar Acquaintance” discusses the career of Phebe Earle Gibbons, a Hicksite Quaker from Lancaster County who recognized the unique character of her Pennsylvania Dutch neighbors and wrote articles for nationally circulated magazines about their customs, work and language, as well as the practices of the various plain groups and other religious sects among them (she is considered the first writer to introduce the Amish to a national audience), all later collected in the book Pennsylvania Dutch and Other Essays. Journalist Jack Brubaker, himself a resident of Lancaster County who has been writing a newspaper column about the region’s heritage for more than 42 years, describes Gibbons’ life as a farm wife, lecturer, social activist and author who traveled the world but also made fascinating visits to local farms, homes and churches to gather material for her studies of the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Today, daily events are captured easily by multiple individuals through digital photography on smart phones. In the 19th century, however, when photography was in its infancy and in the hands of only a few professionals, those who were moved to preserve visual moments — such as Lewis Miller of York — took pen or brush to paper to document them. In “Drawing to Represent,” June Burk Lloyd, librarian emerita at the York County History Center, examines a selection of the numerous captioned drawings that Miller created throughout his long life, from elephants in a traveling menagerie bathing in a local creek to vignettes of the Civil War as it played out in southern Pennsylvania. The article emphasizes how many of Miller’s detailed images of specific scenes in York, such as a cook preparing food at an inn or himself working at his carpentry trade, have a universal quality that make them representative of similar everyday activities in towns throughout the country at that time.

With this edition we say farewell to one of the magazine’s regular department contributors, Karen Galle, who has retired from her position at PHMC as coordinator of the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program. In addition to her diligent work managing the process that led to the installation and dedication of nearly 500 markers since 2005, Karen wrote each installment of Marking Time for Pennsylvania Heritage. From her first column in Winter 2013 to her last in this issue, she has highlighted one of the more than 2,500 historical markers that have been placed throughout the commonwealth since 1914. We congratulate Karen and commend her for her informative, captivating essays and her vital work in preserving Pennsylvania history.

Kyle R. Weaver
Editor