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News | June 20, 2024

“Remember Why You’re Here”: Mother of 9/11 Victim Visits Morrison Center Memorial

FORT MEADE, Md. - “It shows you how fragile life is,” mother of Flight 93’s youngest victim said with tear-filled eyes at the sight of her 20-year old daughter’s photo and purse on display at the 9/11 memorial in the lobby of the Morrison Center on NSA/CSS Washington’s East Campus.
Earlier this year, Deborah “Debby” Borza donated to NSA the purse that her daughter carried on 11 September 2001. She was recently invited to the Agency to view this memorial on what would have been her daughter, Deora Bodley’s, 43rd birthday.

Debby Borza weeps at the sight of NSA’s Flight 93 memorial in memory of her daughter.

Borza and her partner, Gregory Linden, began their visit at the National Cryptologic Museum with a guided tour from the Center for Cryptologic History Chief John Tokar and a retired NSA employee and museum docent.

After a first-hand look into the Agency’s history, Borza and Linden boarded a van to East Campus to see the 9/11 memorial.
“What a great honor to have you here,” Deputy Director Wendy Noble said as she greeted them both upon their arrival.
Noble shared with Borza how much this memorial means to NSA.
“The reason we have it in the front of the building is especially for new employees, to remember why you’re here,” she said.
The project manager of the 9/11 memorial, and other members of the Morrison Center construction team were also present for the visit.
“A lot of folks that come and work here were born after 9/11,” the project manager said, sharing how the memorial helps the workforce relate to this tragic event in history.
 The co-facility manager and former Morrison Center construction manager, along with members of the Facility Management Team from East Campus, also got emotional and thanked Borza for her contribution.

Picture of Flight 93 victim Deora Bodley, and the purse she carried on 9/11 on display at the 9/11 memorial at NSA/CSS Washington’s Morrison Center.

The co-facility manager explained how Borza was instrumental in the Flight 93 memorial at NSA becoming a reality, and her visit brought it all together.
Borza was equally grateful for the time and hard work they put into the entire display, especially the piece honoring her daughter.
“To the gentlemen who built it, thank you,” she said. “Thank you for taking on that responsibility. This is amazing.”
The 9/11 memorial displays: an American flag from Shanksville, Pennsylvania; elevator tracks from the World Trade Center; limestone rubble and a partially melted laptop from the Pentagon; and Bodley’s purse, cleaned and preserved from the Flight 93 crash site.

A Day Etched Into Memory

On 11 September 2001, Borza’s daughter was entering her junior year as a French and child psychology major at Santa Clara University in California, and was returning to school after a visit with girlfriends on the East Coast. She had gone to the airport early that morning to accommodate her friend who had an early class. While Bodley was not scheduled to be on Flight 93 traveling from Newark International Airport to San Francisco, she was able to get a seat on standby.
Borza was at work when she got a tearful phone call from her daughter’s friend, saying that she had gotten on an earlier flight.
It was in that moment that Borza had an unsettling feeling, and went to a church across the street to pray. Borza recalled that she asked God, “Where is Deora?” and she heard a quiet voice respond, “She’s with me.”

Moments later, Borza got a call from the airline, and heard, “I’m sorry to inform you—” from the other line. Borza dropped the phone.

Debby Borza reads a quote at the 9/11 memorial.


Remembering and Honoring Her Daughter’s Legacy

Bodley dreamed of becoming a child psychologist, and was committed to community service, volunteering in high school, working with the America Reads program, and tutoring kids after school.
Since that phone call, Borza has dedicated her life to honoring her daughter and the other lives lost in Shanksville, and even relocated to Maryland to be closer to the crash site and to Washington D.C.
She has been a fixture in Congress and Shanksville since 2001 — working on memorial plans, committees, and legislation where she served on the board for Families of Flight 93 and the 9/11 National Memorial Trail.
“She’s the unofficial mayor of that place! Everybody knows her,” Tokar said as he accompanied Borza to the Flight 93 crash site.
Borza spent the day prior to the NSA visit at the Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania, watching the recent solar eclipse and commemorating her daughter’s birthday.
She was asked to speak to a school group that was scheduled to be at the Tower of Voices memorial that day to highlight history and take in the experience. There, Borza and the students made memories as they ate Oreos (her daughter’s favorite snack), and got to see a scientific wonder happen before their eyes.
“Being with those kids, I felt Deora closer than ever before,” Borza said.
The Tower of Voices, a 93-foot tall musical instrument holding 40 wind chimes, stands as a landmark feature near the entrance to the Flight 93 National Memorial, located in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

NSA Deputy Director Wendy Noble with Debby Borza, mother of 9/11 victim, standing in front of the 9/11 memorial at NSA/CSS Washington’s East Campus.

The living memorial creates a set of forty tones (“voices”) to remember Bodley and the 39 others who died through their ongoing voices.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done,” said Ms. Noble, further recognizing Borza’s tireless work to help memorialize those who lost their lives 23 years ago.
Borza replied tearfully, “I did it for her.”
Before the afternoon concluded, Ms. Noble gave Borza her personal coin.
Borza recalls how the trip to the Agency to see the final piece of her daughter’s memorial was a fulfilling culmination to an emotional week, and before leaving Borza told the crowd, “Some people say ‘Never Forget,’ I like to say, ‘Remember.’ I know for sure, Deora’s very happy.”