Riveting... Emotional... and Extremely Traumatic are words forever etched in my mind that describe the emotions felt that day and resurfacing as I sit curled on my couch with Lillie Leonardi's book, "In the Shadow of a Badge: A Spiritual Memoir."
She shares her experience as a first responder to the hijacked airliner that crashed in Shankville, PA on September 11, 2001. An unimaginable and horrific event; a life altering change for all Americans and the world!
A former FBI employee that suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, she attributes this condition to her role in the investigation of the terror attacks.
Leonardi describes her life as forever altered from that experience. The plot centers on her vision of angels at the crash site. She first describes the thick smell of fuel, burning wood and smoldering pine. She thought back to all the cases she handled as a police officer but this was far the worst. She felt many emotions standing in the field and taking in the scene. It was then that she saw the shimmer of light on her left shoulder that grew into the angels that filled the crash scene. Oddly, she did not see any of the lifeless bodies scattered in the field. She contends that her life has been changed more by what she didn't see that day.
"When I look at people, I see their souls... I witness the internal source of their being, the external of the person. I see the purity which is derived from their sprit buried within the caverns of their body and connected to their mind."
As I read, I caught my mind drifting back to that moment in time; a vivid painful memory. The gut wrenching pain in my stomach; extreme agony deep within! Being 6 months pregnant, I grabbed my belly; protecting my unborn child. I wept as many of us did!
Leonardi's personal account is a very touching one. Through her experience, she has become an inspiration to others as a writer and speaker. I highly recommend this memoir!