Ninety minutes. That’s how long it took Dan Holdridge ’04 MS to let his family know he had survived the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.
A program director at General Dynamics, Holdridge was overseeing an IT upgrade in a newly renovated section of the Pentagon.
“It was pure chance that I was standing outside with a colleague,” says Holdridge. “We were discussing the attacks on the World Trade Center towers, and I said, with disbelief, ‘What’s next? The Pentagon?’”
Just then, the building behind them erupted into flames.
“It was absolute chaos,” Holdridge recalls. “Fire, smoke, screaming and we didn’t know if more planes were on the way or how to reach family because cell phones weren’t working. But one image stays with me—the sheer number of people looking to help.”
Escaping with only minor injuries, Holdridge made a promise to himself that day: he was going to make a list of everything he had ever wanted to do, and reprioritize his life. He left General Dynamics to work in the family business, Eagle Electrical Engineering Enterprise, because his father had fallen ill. He also enrolled at the University of New Haven to pursue the master’s degree in engineering and operations management he’d always wanted.
“I knew I needed the knowledge that an advanced degree provides to grow the business and UNH exceeded my expectations,” says Holdridge. “Dr. Daneshfar was amazing—he saw what I was trying to do with my company and he helped me. He still does.”
Holdridge also travels the country as an inspirational speaker, spreading the message of hope and healing he discovered on September 11 that he outlines in his book, Pentagon Prayer. As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 nears, Holdridge asks people take 90minutes to write what they’re grateful for.
“Make sure you tell everyone how you feel about them,” he says. “Do it today. You don’t have to survive a terrorist attack to learn from one."
Posted Summer 2011