The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski

As a Page during the 83rd Congress, Paul E. Kanjorski witnessed a violent attack against the United States House of Representatives on March 1, 1954. He later went on to win a U.S. House seat representing a Pennsylvania district for 13 terms. His House service coincided with another act of terrorism against the nation on September 11, 2001.

Featured Video

Path to Becoming a Page

Representative Kanjorski explains how and why he became a Page.
The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded October 26, 2011 Deed of Gift

Abstract & Transcript

U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania (January 3, 1985-January 3, 2011)

From a young age Paul E. Kanjorski had a keen interest in politics. His passion for political biographies and an admiration for two U.S. Senators who served as congressional Pages—Daniel Webster of Massachusetts and Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan—laid the foundation for a long career in elected office. In this interview Kanjorski explains how he viewed Page service as a critical component of his goal to become a public official. Through a family connection, Kanjorski received a Page appointment under the sponsorship of Representative Edward Bonin of Pennsylvania who served during the 83rd Congress (1953–1955).

Only 15 years old when he arrived at the U.S. Capitol, Kanjorski joined the Page ranks, primarily running errands for Members of Congress. Before the advent of mobile communication, Representatives depended on the timely delivery of messages and materials by House Pages. Kanjorski describes his busy work schedule, his education in the Capitol Page School, the local boarding house where he resided, and racial segregation in Washington, DC, during the 1950s. As a Page he witnessed the violent attack in the House Chamber on March 1, 1954, where four Puerto Rican nationalists fired shots at House Members to bring attention to their cause of independence from the United States. Kanjorski, along with other Pages including Bill Emerson—a close friend who later served in Congress with Kanjorski—tended to the Representatives wounded during the assault. His eyewitness account details bullets ricocheting off walls and furniture in the House Chamber and Pages carrying injured Members from the Capitol on stretchers to waiting ambulances. Kanjorski also reflects on the effects of the attack on Congress as well as its impact on the Pages.

Thirty years after the shooting, Kanjorski won election to the House in 1984. In 2001 as a U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania he recalls learning of the attacks on September 11 while returning to the Capitol after a meeting at the White House. Kanjorski provides a detailed description of the day that included evacuating his office, accounting for staff, and gathering with Members on the Capitol steps in a moment of national unity. He also reveals how Congress responded to the destruction and crisis caused by the terrorist attack and explains his work on revising catastrophic insurance legislation.

Biography

KANJORSKI, Paul E., a Representative from Pennsylvania; born in Nanticoke, Luzerne County, Pa., April 2, 1937; United States Capitol Page School, Washington, D.C., 1954; attended Wyoming Seminary, Kingston, Pa.; Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa., 1957-1961; Dickinson School of Law, Carlisle, Pa., 1962-1965; United States Army Reserves, 1960-1961; lawyer, private practice; administrative law judge for workmen's compensation, 1971-1980; elected as a Democrat to the Ninety-ninth and to the twelve succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1985-January 3, 2011); unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the One Hundred Twelfth Congress in 2010.

Video

Path to Becoming a Page

Representative Kanjorski explains how and why he became a Page.
The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded October 26, 2011 Deed of Gift

Discrimination in the Capitol

Representative Kanjorski discusses race relations at the Capitol during his Page service.
The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded October 26, 2011 Deed of Gift

Segregated City

Representative Kanjorski shares his memories of segregation in the South while he was a Page.
The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded October 26, 2011 Deed of Gift

"Grow Up Quickly"

Representative Kanjorski describes the personal responsibilities of Pages during the 1950s.
The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded October 26, 2011 Deed of Gift

Unique Opportunities

Representative Kanjorski recounts his favorite aspects of Page service.
The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded October 26, 2011 Deed of Gift

Responsibilities of Pages

Representative Kanjorski describes the responsibilities of House Pages during the 1950s.
The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded October 26, 2011 Deed of Gift

Reaction of the Pages

Representative Kanjorski shares his memories of the reaction of the House Pages to the violence on March 1, 1954.
The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded October 26, 2011 Deed of Gift

Reflections on the Aftermath of the Shooting

Representative Kanjorski reflects on the aftermath of the attack in the House Chamber on March 1, 1954.
The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded October 26, 2011 Deed of Gift

Remembering the Day

Representative Kanjorski provides a detailed account of the shooting in the House Chamber on March 1, 1954.
The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded October 26, 2011 Deed of Gift

"Magnificent 10"

Representative Kanjorski shares his memories of the morning of September 11, 2001, and how he learned of the attacks.
The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded October 26, 2011 Deed of Gift

Gathering on the Capitol Steps

Representative Kanjorski recalls how Members gathered spontaneously on the Capitol steps on the evening of September 11, 2001.
The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded October 26, 2011 Deed of Gift

Imagining the Worst

Representative Kanjorski describes how Members responded to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded October 26, 2011 Deed of Gift

Images & Artifacts

The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski
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Representative Kanjorski served in the House from 1985 to 2011.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Shooting in the House Chamber
<i>Shooting in the House Chamber</i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_kanjorski_stretcher.xml
Pages Bill Goodwin (left) and Paul Kanjorski (second from left) and Bill Emerson (pointing) carried injured Representatives outside after Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire in the House Chamber in 1954.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Bicentennial Commemoration
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Representative Kanjorski, second from left in full view, attended the ceremonial session at Independence Hall in Philadelphia to commemorate the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution in 1987.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives