In what is either an inspring story of God’s love for us all or maybe evidence that first responders deserve far better treatment for PTSD, very serious news site WND brings us the account of one Lillie Leonardi, who was the community affairs coordinator for the FBI’s Pittsburgh office when she was sent to the United Airlines Flight 93 crash site on Sept. 11, 2001. In a recently self-published memoir, In the Shadow of a Badge: A Spiritual Memoir, Ms. Leonardi reveals that when she arrived at the site outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, she saw angels appearing all around the perimeter of the crash site:
“All of a sudden, I kept seeing this flicker of light. You saw all these angels manifest. One in particular, in front, that I knew, it was Michael. He knew I was there to do something. I just didn’t know what it was at that moment. He’s the conduit to God as far as I’m concerned. I’m then the conduit for other people to listen to what has to be said. And then it’s their choice to decide what to do.”
And what were these angels, including Michael, actually doing at the crash site? Leonardi doesn’t quite explain this, but she is very certain that they were there for a reason that is beyond our ability to comprehend. Now, as we know from sophisticated theological treatises like that one German movie with Peter Falk, angels can’t actually stop planes from crashing or even give 19 terrorists a case of explosive diarrhea that would keep them from flying, so don’t you start asking rude questions about the decided lack of divine intervention on 9/11, you dirty heathens. Besides, God did so intervene, leaving an inspiring cross-shaped piece of wreckage in the rubble of the World Trade Center, so there. Only God can cause two metal beams to meet at right angles, and to say otherwise would just be crazy talk.
Even worse would be to suggest that, in the wake of an unimaginably horrific experience that would eventually leave her so deeply affected by PTSD that she had to take early retirement, a person might simply grasp at any explanation that offers a sense of meaning in an inherently meaningless tragedy. This awful thing couldn’t have just happened, could it? Without any deeper significance than proving that a group of religiously motivated political fanatics (or were they politically motivated religious fanatics? We forget) can use modern technology to cause massive death and destruction, one might almost start thinking that there is no benign order in the universe, and precious little benign human agency at that. If believing they saw angels at a crash site helps someone get through what they experienced, it’s a lot better than substance abuse, becoming a 9/11 truther, or starting a couple of wars in the Middle East.
We’re not even sure we can be too snarkful about Leonardi’s trying to make a buck off her hallucinations by selling her book — after all, it’s not like public employees suffering from the fallout of 9/11 got a lot of love from Congress. OK, maybe that’s too strong. First responders got plenty of love. Just criminally limited care for their physical and mental health. As legitimate news site The Blaze notes, there’s an important message here:
Now, Leonardi is looking for some healing. By sharing her story, she‘s hoping that’s what she’ll be able to find, while also driving home the fact that she wants readers to know that, despite the pain and devastation, God was present on 9/11.
Again, like those angels, not especially doing anything, but, you know, definitely present. Which for some reason reminds us of this fine song by Mr. Randy Newman:
(When we used to teach First-Year College Writing, sometimes we’d play that and then ask the students what they thought of its sweet sentiments…and then follow it up with Newman’s “God’s Song” to introduce the concept of the Unreliable Narrator.) And now we write for your Wonkette. Sad face.