“We’re not just friends,” said Laurie with her trademark smile. “We call ourselves the 4-H family.”
To understand how close they became it should be noted that they have traveled to different parts of the country where their ‘family’ resides for weddings, births, and (as was the case Friday in Crowley) reunions.
Among the family members down visiting for the reunion was Dan Holridge. Holridge owns a company called 4E Electric Engineering Enterprise out of Westerly, Rhode Island. He also was working in the Pentagon during one of the darkest days in recent U.S. history - September 11, 2001. He was working in the same corridor that the plane struck.
“I was about 10 feet on the other side of the wall from the blast,” said Holridge. “I don’t smoke but a friend of mine does and I was outside my office visiting him when the blast occurred.”
“My doctor said it was the first time he had heard of smoking saving a life,” he smiled.
When spoken to Friday, Holridge never mentioned if he felt lucky, blessed, or both. He does know he is a survivor and these days devotes much of his time to giving speeches and helping others to understand how precious life is. He has also written a book called Pentagon Prayer which will be released this September 11th.
“It took 90 minutes for my family to find out that I survived,” said Holridge. “When I speak to others I want them to take 90 minutes to be able to figure out what is important to them and what they are passionate about.”
For example, before he visited City Hall, he toured the Grand Opera House of the South where he said he was quite impressed with L.J. Gielen’s pride in the Opera House’s renovation and the work that he and several others put into it.
“I thanked Mr. Gielen for showing me his life’s passion,” said Holridge. “That was his 90 minutes.”
It is also evident that the memories from that tragic day will always remain a part of him.
“Some days are better than others,” he said. “Of course, I’ll never forget stumbling through the rubble and the things I saw. But I have to live though it. I try to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones. Speaking to people about the value of life and how quickly it can be taken from you is therapeutic for me.”
It seems to be working as Holridge spoke about what a great time he was having in Crowley where he has been staying at the home of Jay and Laurie Suire since last Sunday.
“I’ve been down here five times for vacations,” he said. “Crowley is a great town and I’ll keep coming to visit as long as Laurie and Jay will have me.”