“I’ve been doing benefit concerts for the past few years for the Flight 93 Memorial project,” says Greg Keiling. “One of my good friends, a person I used to work with, was a passenger. Her name is Deora Bodley.”
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Bodley boarded United Airlines Flight 93 at Newark International Airport. Minutes into the flight, the jetliner was diverted toward the nation’s capital as part of the 9/11 terrorist hijackings. Of the four jetliners that were hijacked on that morning, Flight 93 was the one on which the passengers mounted a counterattack against the terrorists. It crashed in a field near Somerset, PA, killing everyone on board. Keiling says that Bodley, 20, was the youngest passenger on the flight.
“I found out eight days after the crash that she had died,” says Keiling.
A social worker by trade, Keiling, 39, says he met Bodley in 1998 at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, where she was a volunteer. “At the time, I was working at a residential treatment facility called the San Diego Center for Children. Every Wednesday, we would take the kids up to Helen Woodward to go horseback riding. Deora was in charge of our group. That’s how we became friends.”
Keiling says that the events of 9/11 fueled what he calls his “anger issues.” “After years of struggling with what happened to her and everything, I went to the crash site. It was kind of like an intervention. My parents put it together.” He says they told him that he needed to deal with his anger. “It was extremely painful, but it was also inspiring,” he recalls. “I found the inspiration to channel my anger into celebrating Deora’s life. And I figured the best way I could celebrate her life was through music.”
To date, Keiling has produced six benefit concerts at either Dream Street or Brick by Brick that have raised close to $5000 toward the construction of a memorial. Plans have been in the works for years. In 2002, Congress passed a bill to create a permanent national memorial near the site. If all goes according to plan, the dedication is scheduled for 2011.
Keiling is not alone in his charitable efforts. In 2006, a group of teens raised money for 9/11 memorials by walking from Ohio to Ground Zero with a stopover at the Flight 93 crash site, and jazzman Dave Brubeck recorded a song dedicated to Deora Bodley written by her father Derrill.
“Deora’s mom called me a couple of nights ago,” says Keiling. “She and Deora’s best friend are flying from North Carolina to attend the concert. This is gonna be a monumental show on the emotional level.”
Comfort in Rage, Authentic Sellout, Raise the Guns, Beneath Lanston, and Keiling’s own group, SD93, will perform at this year’s benefit for Deora at Brick by Brick.