During a road trip with a friend to New York City in 2001, Elizabeth Strenger Keefe made an unlikely discovery when she happened across a wedding photo in the Ground Zero rubble.
It was just one day after 9/11.
Behind the framed cracked glass was a memory that encapsulated beauty, joy, love and friendship—elements that certainly seemed far removed from the devastation that surrounded it.
Seeing it as a “symbol of hope and happiness in this unbelievable destruction,” the Boston College professor decided to hunt down the owners.
Little did she know, her hunt for the six strangers in the photo was an unsolved mystery that would be 13 years in the making.
Every year on 9/11, she posted the photo on social media in hopes of reuniting it with the owner—but for over a decade, her efforts proved fruitless.
In years past, Elizabeth received a small amount of retweets and mentions on Twitter, but 2014 was different.
She finally found the glimmer of hope she’d been waiting for.
“I KNOW THE PEOPLE IN THE PICTURE! I was at the wedding,” tweeted Fred Mahe.
@ProfKeefe I KNOW THE PEOPLE IN THE PICTURE! I was at the wedding.
— Fred Mahe (@FredWMahe) September 12, 2014
Mahe (the man featured far left in the photo) last saw the picture on his desk on the 77th floor of the second World Trade Center on 9/11.
He revealed that the couple is Christine and Christian Loredo, college friends who were married in Aspen, Colorado. And it turns out, all six people in the photo are still alive!
— E. Stringer Keefe (@ProfKeefe) September 12, 2014
Awestruck by the discovery and Elizabeth’s persistence, Mahe couldn’t wait to meet the woman who had spent 13 years trying to get the precious photo back into the hands of its rightful owner.
@ProfKeefe 9/11 we remember what we lost. 9/12 we remember what we have. 9/12/01, I saw the best of humanity. Elizabeth is 100% 9/12 #9/12
— Fred Mahe (@FredWMahe) September 13, 2014
Fox and Friends orchestrated the much-anticipated reunion…and the look on Fred’s face says it ALL.
As Elizabeth peeled open her favorite Ernest Hemingway book where she’d stashed the treasure all this time, Fred couldn’t help but be taken aback by the priceless photo he thought he’d never see again.
“The story is Elizabeth, the story is persistence and trying to help someone she didn’t even know,” said the grateful man.
Calling it a “bit of light in the darkness,” he further praised the kind stranger for her efforts with the sweetest of sentiments:
“With Elizabeth leading that effort for the last 13 years, it is just amazing. I mean Elizabeth has almost single-handedly restored our faith in humanity.”