Deora Bodley’s parents say their daughter would want them to forgive the hijackers who crashed United Airlines Flight 93 in southwest Pennsylvania on Sept. 11.
They admit that it’s too early for that, but yesterday Derrill Bodley and Deborah Borza asked the United States to embrace peace instead of retaliation.
Deora’s parents spoke publicly for the first time since the hijacking before a memorial service at Santa Clara University, where Deora, 20, would have been starting her junior year as a psychology and French major.
Borza read from one of Deora’s journals, which she had found under her daughter’s bed the night of her death.
“People ask who, what, when, where, how, why. I ask peace,” Borza read.
Though visibly shaken, Borza and Bodley joined other survivors of the victims killed in the terrorist attacks who have urged the nation to search for a peaceful resolution to violent hatreds.
“We must not retaliate in kind as if our cause allows us to,” said Bodley, a music professor at the University of the Pacific in Stockton and Sacramento City College.
The name of America’s new mission, Operation Infinite Justice, “frightens me more than the terrorist attacks,” he said. “I shudder to think they chose it because they think God is on their side. That is what terrorists think.”
The U.S. government, he said, needs to review its own role in world affairs before trying to claim the moral high ground.
Said Borza: “Let this passing be the start of a new conversation that is all-inclusive, tolerant of all people’s beliefs, that includes everyone’s God, that includes everyone of color, that provides a future for all mankind to live in harmony and respect.”
Borza, who works for Copley Information Services, described her only child as a “young, vibrant woman, fiercely independent, who loved her freedom.”
Deora, who spent many hours tutoring elementary school students in reading, was returning to the Bay Area from an East Coast visit with friends. She had been booked on a later plane but was given a standby seat on Flight 93, her mother said.
Yesterday, a memorial stood outside the Jesuit university’s Mission Church, decorated with candles, a teddy bear, balloons and notes.
“Deora made the sun brighter,” one student had written.