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Social Media Connects 9/11 Wedding Photograph to Owner
By: Jennifer Graber
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Fairy tale endings are the stuff of myths and legends. We never believe they happen to anyone we know. It is always a friend of a friend’s cousin’s sister’s boyfriend’s mother. Furthermore, it seems even less likely that social media would conceivably play a role in creating a happy ending. It is almost as if we hear an instance each week of how social media has gone awry or created some sort of issue. Surprisingly, that is not the case this time.
The story begins thirteen years ago on September 11, 2001. We all remember that fateful day well. It is a day that forever changed the American landscape and culture. It is a day that is deeply ingrained in our memories, the effects of which still linger. On that day, many men and women lost their lives, and those who did not perish in the tragedy may have fallen victim to health concerns or lost possessions. On that infamous day Elizabeth Keefe was in New York City visiting a friend. In the days after the terrorist attack, Keefe and her friend found a photograph in the rubble. Keefe’s friend passed the photograph along to her and asked that she “do something meaningful with it.”
The photograph was of a wedding party. The beautiful backdrop was snow-covered mountains. Everyone looked happy and content. Keefe wanted to return the photograph to its original owner because it symbolized hope in a time of heartbreak. So Keefe spent 13 years in search of the photograph’s owner. She shared the photograph time and again via social media and the web. Unfortunately, for many years, Keefe had no luck. But she continued to hit the web and social media in hopes of finding success.
Keefe’s search took a fortuitous turn this year. She tweeted the photograph out on her Twitter account. Keefe even reached out to various celebrities in hopes that they, too, would retweet the image. Country singer Blake Shelton responded to the request and retweeted the photograph. Over a short amount of time, the photograph got 35,000+ retweets. One of the individuals who saw the photograph retweeted was an old friend and colleague of Fred Mahe, one of the men in the image. The gentleman contacted Mahe and let him know about the photograph and its journey.
Mahe was able to connect with Keefe, oddly enough, through a LinkedIn message, and now there are plans for Keefe to return it to Mahe. The photograph was taken at the wedding of Mahe’s close friends and sat on his desk in the towers at the World Trade Center. Mahe never made it to work that morning because he was stopped at the subway before ever getting near his office. For him, the image coming full circle represents resolve and “faith in humanity."
It is incredibly inspiring for positive news to come out of the digital world. We typically hear stories of mess-ups and bullying, or we hear word of poor examples of messages being digitally broadcast. See what we can do when we band together on social media? And see what happens when social media and the web are used for good? The world would be better place if that became the norm instead of the exception.

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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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