Friday, September 08, 2006


Michelle Coyle-Eulau


As follow-up on my earlier post, a Tribute to Michelle Coyle-Eulau, presented as part of the 2,996 Project.

Those who executed the attack against America on September 11, 2001, sought to achieve a victory against us. The Al Qaeda operatives involved in its planning were very precise about their targets, calculating in their means and methods, and very consciously aware of the potential damage they might inflict, and the terror they hoped to create.

With evil and malice aforethought, they pinpointed what they viewed as the soft underbelly of the American psyche, the pulse of what they view as our carnal and materially minded culture. Within the financial heart of New York City, zeroing in specifically on that towering symbol of American business, technological achievement, and engineering and manufacturing prowess.

The World Trade Center.

But the target was less important in the eyes of our enemies than the psychological impact they hoped to achieve. An attack on America, right between the eyes. A strike against American Capital, against a focal point of our culture, against a point of pride. Their ideology and doctrine convinced them that we would crumble, or cower, and otherwise fall overwhelmed from the audacity of the strike and the horror of the result.

The civilian casualties, the death of so many innocents, were merely a means to an end, anonymous to their killers, the instrument used to provoke and amplify the terror.

The victims of 9/11 did not start that day as participants in any war. They may or may not have been particularly aware of the sources of terror, where the 9/11 plotters gained inspiration or incubated their deadly plans. Most probably gave little thought to radical Islamic movements, the behavior of state sponsors of terror, or even terrorism itself. If those that perished on 9/11 at the World Trade Center were not the definition and archetypes of innocents slaughtered, there is no meaning to the word.

Yet, those who fell on 9/11 would become the honored dead on the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center, the latest casualties in a decades long, undeclared and largely unacknowledged war against civilization as we know it in the West.

Our enemies conduct this war against our society, our population, our tribes and families. They could not know that the victims of their target reflected as well as any, the diversity of our nation, of those who call it home. Knowing who they would kill was not important to their ends, beyond what little they wanted to know: there would be Americans, infidels among the dead.

One of the victims of 9/11 was 38 year old Michelle Coyle-Eulau. Michelle was the devoted mother, an Information Technology (IT) professional who juggled part-time systems and management consulting within the fast paced New York City Financial District. She worked on the 96th Floor of Tower One. Tragically, Tuesday September 11th was one of two days that Michelle had planned as her “city days” for that week. She made a habit of getting to work early, so she could leave promptly to return to her husband Dennis, and three sons, ages 2, 5, and 7.

Michelle was a working Mom, in a demanding field, in a demanding city, no doubt working through all the work and family issues that are so familiar to so many American two income families. And no doubt, so alien to the enemy whose target that day placed Michelle some few floors above their point of impact. A Soccer Mom. A Career Woman. An avid sportswoman, skier and snorkeler, who was the driving force behind her family’s outdoor lifestyle and weekend activities.

I did not know Michelle, but I’ve known many women who do what she does, who struggle with the same challenges of balancing family and career. She sounds like an over-achiever, who at the same time tried to keep herself grounded in things she clearly felt needed to be a priority in her life: the well-being of those she loved.

All of us work our way through the challenges of technology, rapid change, and shifting attitudes about all aspects of living in the modern world. We each make our own choices, we mark those points of relevance, like the ancient mileposts, landmarks, and property boundaries of old. Some boundaries shift, some are discarded or abandoned, sometimes we yield control to different owners in our mental and emotional landscapes.

Like many families today, the Coyle-Eulau’s made decisions and choices that allowed them to create the kind of family and lifestyle that allowed Michelle the ability to maintain a home, encourage the physical fitness and healthy activity, for her, her husband, and her children. She made lunches for her children, she planned quality time for her family, and actively pushed against the boundaries of time and energy, as her family described her, one “to the max Mom.”

We all of us will leave some form of legacy of our lives. I pray that her family can find solace that, for the years she lived among them on this earth, Michelle gave every once of her heart, energy, and spirit to making the kind of life many of us try to make, and don’t always succeed. It was a great tragedy that Michelle was taken so violently and abruptly, from amongst the loving embrace of her family. But greater would have been the tragedy, if her friends and family had never been graced with Michelle’s energy and vitality.

She lived for a time among us, she brought much happiness, and she left this world far too soon.

There are several online sources of information on Michelle, upon which this tribute was based:

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