In the Shadow of a Badge: Memoir about Flight 93, a Field of Angels, and My Spiritual Homecoming Hardcover – 25 Feb 2013
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""An outstanding and inspirational story that will provide its readers with hope, and renew their faith in God and mankind. Lillie's story will bring tears to your eyes and warm your heart . . . I could not put the book down." "-- Kenneth T. McCabe, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (Retired), Commissioner, Pennsylvania Gaming Commission Board (Retired)
About the Author
Lillie Leonardi worked in law enforcement for more than 25 years before retiring to pursue her lifelong dream of writing. In 1984, Leonardi was appointed to serve as the first female police officer with the City of Arnold, Pennsylvania. She broke barriers again in 1994 when she was appointed the first female chief of police for Chatham College. In 1998, Leonardi joined the FBI (Pittsburgh Division) as the Community Outreach Specialist, where she served until 2010. Website: www.lillieleonardi.com
Top Customer Reviews
It is also the story of Lillie's profound spiritual and emotional journey after 9/11. Like many service people who survived after 9/11 she was later diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As a female law enforcement officer the diagnosis was especially difficult. Fearing she would be seen as the weaker sex and incapable of doing her job she had early on transformed herself in an overachieving "Superwoman." Now in the grip of guilt and fear she discovered that forgiveness of self and others was necessary.
Lillie's fear also kept her from revealing she had witnessed a "field of angels" during her first minutes at the 9/11 crash site. She received a profound spiritual healing and was finally able to reconcile the physical and metaphysical sides of her life when she shared her entire story at a church. Lillie's journey shows it is never too late to find your life's purpose and spiritual path. She says she wrote "In The Shadow of a Badge: Memoir about Flight 93, a Field of Angels, and My Spiritual Homecoming" because "it is time for others to know that there are angels walking this earth."
My prayer is that Lillie offer her vision and gift to heal not just to the people of America but all the inhabitants of our planet.
Lillie worked in law enforcement for more than 25 years.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The beautifully illustrated cover of the book says, "A Memoir About Flight 93, a Field of Angels, and My Spiritual Homecoming."
If you are looking for a memoir about Flight 93 from an FBI perspective, you will not find it here. Bureau policy mandates that no classified or sensitive information be revealed, and Ms. Leonardi explains this in a succinct closing note. She is highly professional in keeping any FBI-related information general and generic.
If you are looking for an in-depth story about the field of angels, you will also not find that here. The vision she was given that she shares is incredibly powerful, profound, and pointed. The book is spent on her processing the vision and its effect on her life, rather than on the vision itself--which fulfills the purpose of her book. I give it four stars out of five because I was looking for something else, but this is still a good book.
If you are looking for a supportive story of one person's spiritual homecoming to encourage and inspire you with your own, drop everything and go get this book! If you are looking for details and depth about the angels that were present at the crash site, this is not your source.
A very human example of the ever-present divine support on our spiritual journey through EarthSchool, this book is a beautiful reminder that God totally has our back. Every time we turn around, He is there--whether we see it at the time or not. Heck, He's there whether we even turn around or not! After reading this book, I felt hugely Divinely supported and connected, and that my incredible human-ness and journey is something to embrace.
Hay House gifted me with this book in partnership with my honest opinion of it. Their Book Nook blogger program rocks, and I am grateful!
Standing amid the wreckage of that downed plane in Shanksville, PA, she experienced a religious awakening that caused her to rethink her entire life for the next decade. From that day forward, she would no longer be able to choose between being a law enforcement agent or a spiritual pilgrim; instead, the event forced her to address the two separate sides to her life and make them whole.
In her memoir, In the Shadow of a Badge, Leonardi describes seeing angels at the crash site in Shanksville. Her interpretation of this event was that the angels were helping transition the passengers and crew of the plane to heaven and that they were also watching over the hundreds of law enforcement personnel who had arrived to investigate the scene.
Having experienced other angel sightings throughout her life, Leonardi was comforted by the sight. Yet working in a male-dominated field for her adult life led her to hide her spiritual self with her coworkers and most of the world. Only her immediate family and friends understood her devotion to the Catholic faith and how she reveled in it during quiet moments.
To her coworkers and to the outside world, she was simply a “Robocop,” and acted on calculated, intellectual reasoning alone, leaving little room for spiritual or emotional reactions. That tough-guy exterior may have helped her deal with the 12 days she worked at the crash site as a liaison with United Airlines and government agencies but it also forced her to stuff her emotions deep within.
Energy always seeks expansion so when you try holding back extreme emotion for too long, it will eventually cause havoc with the personality. In Leonardi’s case, the stifling of emotions both as a cop and as a first responder on 9/11 finally caused her to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). That diagnosis (and her final acceptance of it) started her on a journey of self-discovery and healing that could help her finally quantify the two very distinctive sides of her personality.
Leonardi details her struggles with therapies to help manage her PTSD as well as her spiritual “coming out,” where she finally decides to publically share her experience in Shanksville. As part of that process, she began to allow herself to feel and act upon her intuitive/feminine persona which she had carefully controlled during her law enforcement tenure.
I am not Catholic and usually shut down mentally when I’m presented with too much religious dogma. Still, I selected In the Shadow of a Badge because I was interested in Leonardi’s experiences on 9/11. Like many Americans, the wounds inflicted on our country that warm fall day still feel fresh and raw even a decade later. I’ve read other firsthand accounts of supernatural events by first responders and wanted to see how Leonardi’s compared.
I’m also not a big believer in angels--the concept seems too Christian to me. So after I read a few pages into the book, I reminded myself that there is always something to learn and kept going to see what I could glean from the manuscript. Rather than discard the author’s message altogether, I instead went into an introspective state to clarify my own beliefs about angels and the afterlife. I have a way to go on that discovery.
I did pick out several important themes which are applicable to anyone who reads the book, whether they come from a religious background or not.
First, as I write a lot about in my blog, our world is created through beliefs. This fact is not lost on Leonardi as she deconstructed her experience in Shanksville. Universally, she understands that her beliefs are the most important thing in her life, which to her includes her deep Catholic faith. She sums it up this way:
“Our beliefs matter the most. If we accept our own inner strength, we can take the right action on behalf of ourselves and others. Our beliefs teach us to trust, and this trust guides our path.”
Another important lesson Leonardi learns through her post-9/11 life is that of safety and trust. Trust is a spiritual imperative and is the basis for living safely. The author brings up several examples of her deep trust and how it helped keep her safe during 25 years of police service. Calling on that trust became more important as she battled her PTSD. Her stories of trust and the help she received from the spiritual realm are inspirational and help others learn to trust their basic being.
Spiritual views aside, readers should take particular note of the author’s experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The disorder is a horrible residue of violent acts like 9/11, the wars in the Middle East and the recent shootings in Newtown. The general public needs to know about and understand the disorder which is beginning to affect larger numbers of people each year. I’m pleased the author shared so much of her journey with PTSD as it helps break down some of the stigma about the disorder.
Importantly, she shows that PTSD can sometimes be hard to recognize and slow to emerge as it can come about from stifling emotions for too long. Leonardi also talks about some of the current treatments for PTSD and discloses what worked and didn’t work for her.
What strikes me most with this book, however, is how difficult it appears to be to live a life that includes public spirituality. Many people sometimes feel it’s inappropriate to talk about--let alone display--a spiritual self. It feels too risky to share with others. We worry what others will think of us if we talk about our own spiritual selves outside of a church or the privacy of our homes.
When we ignore that part of ourselves that is connected to the divine, the divine will make itself known eventually. The energy allotted to spirituality, if not given an outlet, will seek expression, even if the means seem questionable as it did with Leonardi’s PTSD. A quick read of the author’s synchronistic events as she accepted both her PTSD diagnosis and her true spiritual self is inspiring.
In the Shadow of a Badge may not be for everyone. There is heavy dose of Catholicism intertwined within the pages and the author takes readers through some very personal and sometimes trivial details of her recovery. Still, if you’ve ever tried to hide your religious or spiritual beliefs in public, this may be a good read and reminder of the amazing things that can happen when you integrate spirituality into your daily existence.
FTC Disclosure notice
I received this copy of the book for free from Hay House Publishing for review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.
Leonardi discusses her spiritual and emotional journey before and after that experience as a former 25-year law enforcement agent, Chief of Police, FBI employee and liason to United Airlines regarding 9/11 and that plane crash. This book will especially be of interest to women in law enforcement, folks with an interest in spirituality and living it in all aspects of our lives, Catholics (of which Leonardi is one), families of 9/11 victims, and those interested in 9/11 events. You feel the sincerity in Leonardi's words as she is candid about her concerns, her health, and her vulnerability. This isn't a long book. There is just a few pages on what she saw on the Pennsylvania field where the heroes of Flight #93 sacrificed their lives for the good of the nation. That plane's target was either The White House or Capitol Building we heard later. What an assault that would have been on our nation and its psyche, if the heroes on that plane hadn't diverted it to a Pennsylvania field. My brother was in the Capitol Building that day and by the time they got the evacuation order, if the plane had kept on its trajectory, it would have been too late for those in the Capitol Building he told us.
While Leonardi was embarrassed that she felt vulnerable at times, felt sensitive and perhaps not as tough as she might have wished, I'm glad that our law enforcement agents have sensitivity, spiritual values and aren't unfeeling. By being empathetic they are able to connect heart to heart with citizens and make wise decisions. It's understandable that it isn't easy to share this experience and its aftermath, but many will be glad she did. I had some premonitions regarding that day the week before and the morning of 9/11 when I was reading my daily Bible Lesson at Starbucks at 7:30 in the morning. Later, I told a family member of what I saw, heard and felt that morning of 9/11 and the week before, and he said, "I'd be careful with whom you share that with." Not everybody understands, or can relate to, these kind of experiences, and that's okay. We all understand and experience life and spirituality differently based on our beliefs, practices, understanding and gifts.
This is a comforting book for those who are looking for spiritual answers about that challenging day. The Bible promise is "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall God." It's obvious in reading this book that Leonardi has a pure, sincere and faithful heart, and perhaps that's why she was able to see evidence of God's messengers on the field on that day. This incident inspires faith. It may be a 5-star read for those who are really interested in spiritual journeys and how spirituality was involved that day.
She sees a vision of angels at the crash site that stays emotionally and spiritually with the author for what we will assume will he rest of her life. It had a huge affect on her life, her job and her own health.
This book is that struggle for her mind and her emotions following the work she did during that tragic time. She had to work with the relatives of those who lost their lives on that flight and do her job as well. The pressures and the emotions took their toll on her mentally. She finally has to concede that she was suffering a serve case of PTSD. She was emotionally injured by those events.
But throughout this experience, it is that vision of the angels that keeps her focused and continues to give her hope. She tells this story as honestly as she can and allows the reader to feel what she was going through in her life.
It is a great reading experience and there is much to think and wonder about with regards to PTSD victims and about the power of angels and love. I personally recommend this book to add to your reading list. It is just one of two finalists for The Military Writer's Society of America's Founder's Award for 2013. It is truly a spiritual memoir that will move you.
W. H. McDonald Jr.
Founder Military Writer's Society of America (MWSA)
And The American Author's Association (AAA)
As she herself comments in her last chapter, there have been many stories written and told about 9/11; many have described seemingly miraculous experiences, though few perhaps as spectacular as Leonardi's vision of angels at the crash site of UA Flight 93. It is not surprising that with such a dramatic (and to skeptics, unbelievable) witness, she had a lot of "stuff" to work through before she was able to share.
To be truthful, I have never personally been blessed with visions or other experiences of the type spiritual writers call "numinous", but that does not put me in the camp of those skeptics. I believe profoundly in the reality of a Creator, and I believe that the defining characteristic of that Creator is Love, not just general, but very individual. As Lillie keeps refocusing throughout her narrative, her vision of the angels provided the motivation that not only empowered her to mediate love to others and help heal their deep hurts, but also to grow in compassion and self-forgiveness.
This book also shares some extremely valuable perspectives on the wide ranging (though only recently defined) condition of PTSD. As I've been convinced for many years in my own experience, traumatic events in a person's life from childhood on do leave an indelible mark and exert character-shaping power. I think anyone who has been involved with law enforcement, military service or any similar endeavor can probably resonate with the tendency Leonardi describes to develop an alternate mechanistic ego in order to cope.
As the author keenly observes, women in these jobs are a recent phenomenon in our culture, and have perhaps tended to overcompensate for the misogyny of their coworkers by trying to "out-tough the guys". As she finally understands, and articulates so tellingly in this profound narrative, this is counterproductive. The world needs more, not less, empathy, compassion and nurturing love. To the extent that women have been more socialized than men to develop these traits, they need to be empowered to use them, not intimidated into losing them.