Remembering 9/11

Submitted by lmcshane on Sat, 09/10/2011 - 12:44.

Our world has changed so dramatically in ten short years.  I am reproducing this letter I received here.  I hope the author does not mind:

Fellow Meetuppers,

I don't write to our whole community often, but this week is
special because it's the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and many
people don't know that Meetup is a 9/11 baby.

Let me tell you the Meetup story. I was living a couple miles
from the Twin Towers, and I was the kind of person who thought
local community doesn't matter much if we've got the internet
and tv. The only time I thought about my neighbors was when I
hoped they wouldn't bother me.

When the towers fell, I found myself talking to more neighbors
in the days after 9/11 than ever before. People said hello to
neighbors (next-door and across the city) who they'd normally
ignore. People were looking after each other, helping each
other, and meeting up with each other. You know, being

A lot of people were thinking that maybe 9/11 could bring
people together in a lasting way. So the idea for Meetup was
born: Could we use the internet to get off the internet -- and
grow local communities?

We didn't know if it would work. Most people thought it was a
crazy idea -- especially because terrorism is designed to make
people distrust one another.

A small team came together, and we launched Meetup 9 months
after 9/11.

Today, almost 10 years and 10 million Meetuppers later, it's
working. Every day, thousands of Meetups happen. Moms Meetups,
Small Business Meetups, Fitness Meetups... a wild variety of
100,000 Meetup Groups with not much in common -- except one

Every Meetup starts with people simply saying hello to
neighbors. And what often happens next is still amazing to me.
They grow businesses and bands together, they teach and
motivate each other, they babysit each other's kids and find
other ways to work together. They have fun and find solace
together. They make friends and form powerful community. It's
powerful stuff.

It's a wonderful revolution in local community, and it's thanks
to everyone who shows up.

Meetups aren't about 9/11, but they may not be happening if it
weren't for 9/11.

9/11 didn't make us too scared to go outside or talk to
strangers. 9/11 didn't rip us apart. No, we're building new
community together!!!!

The towers fell, but we rise up. And we're just getting started
with these Meetups.

Scott Heiferman (on behalf of 80 people at Meetup HQ)
Co-Founder & CEO, Meetup
New York City
September 2011


On 9/11/2001, I was one of thousands of people working in downtown Cleveland.  The information seeped into our conscience after a day that started out as a beautiful, sunny fall day.  As the horror became more apparent and the news included the information that Cleveland was in a possible flight path, employees were sent home.

I started out walking to the bus stop, but gridlock soon prevented any thoughts of taking the bus--as the few I could see were also filled to capacity with anxious faces pressed to the glass.  I mentally said a prayer of thanks that at least I could walk home and I started the trek alone.  But, soon I realized other folks were making the same decision.  To walk.  And, the pilgrimmage of solemn migrants crossed over the Lorain-Carnegie bridge.  I met a man and he asked me how far I had to walk. I volunteered that I could make the three mile walk and give him a ride to his destination.  So, we walked together and when I got home, I was able to give him a ride to the park-and-ride at the West 150th St. rapid.  I know the man learned a lot about me that day and I learned a lot about him, but I did not write my experience down.  I should have, but I wanted to get home as soon as possible.

I immediately called my grandmother.  Her line was busy when I first tried it from home and I assumed that she was checking on our far flung family members--at the time, in Washington state, Michigan, Maryland and Texas.  When I got back, I got through to her and she was relieved to hear from me, but also sad beyond words.  My grandmother was not one to cry or complain, ever.  She was crying.  And, it was obvious that she had been sobbing.

The events of 9/11 triggered horrible memories for my grandmother.  My grandmother survived the German and Russian occupation of Budapest.  My grandfather was a trade attorney and was often not in the city and she had two young children to protect.  There were times that she was alone.  And, times when my grandfather was there.  Women during war are extremely vulnerable.  I don't need to tell my grandmother's story here.  The same story happens to women during war everywhere.  She also became angry on 9/11, because we as Americans had become so complacent and we took so much for granted, especially our civil liberties and the ability to speak out.  As someone robbed of her civil liberties during the war, she knew how much we had allowed ourselves to give away. 

She lived through the Allied bombings of Budapest and knew what it was like to feel bombs exploding overhead.  She witnessed families dragged out of their homes and she witnessed men, women and children shot before her eyes.  She lost friends in the Allied firestorm of bombs that destroyed Dresden and she never forgot.

This the memory I have of 9/11--my grandmother died shortly after this horrorific event.  And, I am sad that we never seem to learn.