9/11 – Lillie’s Story

In honour of those who died and those who risked their lives to help others on September 11, 2001, I decided to interview Lillie Leonardi about her unique and compelling experience of that day, and the days that followed…

1.    Thank you for joining me on the blog today, Lillie. Your memoir, In The Shadow Of A Badge, details your experience at the Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania; and how the 9/11 attacks affected your life. Can you tell us a little about your book and your experience of that day?

The book reflects my story about the visitation of Angels during the first moments at the Flight 93 crash site.  It is a narrative non-fiction account of the spiritual experience I encountered while serving in my professional capacity as the Community Outreach Specialist with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pittsburgh Division. What I saw and/or heard is a personal interpretation of the events leading up to and following 9-11 and, in particular, the Flight 93 crash. The book also details my on-going journey of personal healing and recovery from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following my experiences that day.  The chapters penned include some significant historical facts as well.


2.    Can you share with us a brief excerpt from your book?

“On this day, the shimmer of light began to grow and was almost blinding. I looked again and the light began to evolve into a foggy white mist. The white mist then began to take shape. It moved and swirled in patterns of spectacular white light. All at once, the mist took full shape and I saw what appeared to be angels. There were angels standing in the open area to the left of the crash site. There were hundreds of them standing in columns. There was a field of angels emerging from the realms of the mist. They were Archangels with their wings arched up toward the sky.”


3.    How did the events of that day change your life and your view of the world?

Like many others who watched and witnessed the terrorist attacks of 9/11, my life was dramatically altered by the very nature of the events.  First and foremost, 9/11 removed any sense of security and left in its stay, a deep seeded feeling of fear.  This frozen fear caused trauma to my heart, mind and soul.  Yet, due to my inability to express the emotions felt, I became afflicted with PTSD.  As a result, every aspect of my life has changed.


4.   The memory of 9/11 brings with it a lot of strong emotions for people; do you think there are some positive things people can take from this experience to help them move forward in their lives?

Yes, I do feel there were some positive occurrences on 9/11.

From a law enforcement perspective, I believe many individuals served on behalf of their fellow man.  At each of the three sites, acts of bravery transpired.  When the Twin Towers were struck by the planes, the emergency responders rushed in to save lives and rescue the injured.  When the Towers fell, the responders assisted in recovering those who lost their lives and in the post clean-up efforts.  At the Pentagon, the same type of heroic deeds were witnessed on countless occasions.  And, the passengers and crew members aboard Flight 93, gave their lives to assure others would survive.

While at the crash site, I watched representatives from United Airlines, the law enforcement, human service  and government agencies work in tandem to address the needs of the family members who lost loved ones on Flight 93.  Each of these remarkable individuals gave their all to ease the pain and suffering of the survivors.

Additionally, residents of the surrounding communities rallied and offered unbelievable support to the families.   And, the area business owners provided essential supplies needed for an effective response to the tragedy.

There were so many individuals who helped to ease the pain and suffering of others.  They joined together to help rebuild the lives of those most affected.  It was amazing to watch the strength of spirit exhibited by one and all.


5. Your book is the first in a trilogy, can you tell us what the other two books will be about?

My Life In Black And White With A Smidgen Of Blue:

Book two provides the continuing story from where the first book left off. The many chapters trace my journey as a law enforcement officer, the PTSD diagnosis, the necessary healing processes and the difficulties faced.

The pages also unearth aspects of my childhood, spiritual path and the origins of my intuitive gifts. Additionally, the narrative is my version of a love story. Not, the conventional type that one may be familiar with reading, but it is my rendition of the “affairs of the heart”.


Messages From the Plane:

The third book of the series provides insight into my treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The pages penned delve into the initial treatment of Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) – a highly successful therapy used to aid those suffering from the effects of PTSD.

“Messages From the Plane” describes my journey to restore my mental health, as well as reveals the extraordinary phenomenon that occurred during each of the EMDR treatments. With my mind open, my intuitive abilities were tapped and my creativity began to reemerge. The pages highlight my path out of the depths of despair to a deeply enriched spiritual connection.

This book was co-authored by Dr. Deborah Conway, PhD.  Dr. Conway is the psychotherapist who treated me through conventional therapy and through the process of the EMDR sessions.


Thank you for sharing your amazing story and personal journey, Lillie.

Lillie’s book, In The Shadow Of A Badge, is available at Amazon, BN.com, select Barbes & Noble stores, and Word Association Publishers.

You can also find out more about Lillie at her website.

Do you have a 9/11 story to share? Where were you on that day?

About Juliet Madison

Humorous & Heartwarming Fiction ~ Experience the magic of life and love...

Posted on September 11, 2012, in Interviews, Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Thank you for your tribute post Juliet. I remember being in a hotel room in Rapallo, Italy and I had the TV on (not because i understood the languag but because I was in love with spoken Italian). I wasn’t watching it but glimpsing the pictures as I did other things and I thought the program must have been a foreign horror movie. But of course I quickly realized it wasn’t and I swung from shock to fear. Was this war? Would I not be able to fly home? There were no answers when we asked people (those we understood!) no one knew anything. For a few days I just sat and cried. While there is so much sadness, I prefer to focus on the bravery on that day and the goodness of mankind.

    • Thanks for your comment Jenn. That must have been very scary for you. My parents were travelling at the time and I urged them not to visit any well-populated tourist landmarks.
      It is a good idea to remember the bravery on that day, so many people went above and beyond the call of duty.

  2. I also remember that day well. I was organising breakfast for my kids when my mother phoned, full of fear, telling me America was being bombed. She wanted me to phone my brother (who lived in the US) which of course I did straight away before I even turned on the TV. So I was on the phone to the US and then watching those terrible events unfold in real time, thinking…is this real? Surely this was a movie? And when the first tower fell, I felt this terrible sense of loss, of despair, of pain, seriously I cant describe it fully but it was if those people were reaching out in one last voice.
    I realise that in many countries, war, violence and terrorism has been a part of their lives for a lot longer but I think this act really gave me a truer sense of what others have and are continuing to suffer. Great interview, wishing Lillie all the best.

    • Thanks for stopping by the blog, Suz. It affected so many people far and wide, and it did seem so un-real at first. I remember turning on the TV for my son who was little at the time but they had interrupted the kids programs for a news broadcast, and I quickly took him out of the room.
      It definitely makes you apreciate what you have in life.

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