Something in our nature insulates us from grief.

Time erodes raw pain; forgetfulness dulls the sharp edges of agony. But we should not recover too quickly from September 11.

Recall for a moment the chilling details. The hijackers moved with brisk efficiency through security lines. A pilot banks a jet just before it explodes into the World Trade Center, dipping the wings in order to kill as many people as possible. Firemen rush into what will become their tombs. Giant buildings shudder and collapse. The bright sun disappears, blotted out by carnage and debris.

Hundreds of miles away, a fireball consumes part of the Pentagon. And over the skies of Pennsylvania, Todd Beamer shouts, "Let's roll," knowing he will die so others can live.

Then, as we count our dead, others far away dance in the streets.

We Americans have been drawn into a war devoted not to the conquest of land but the governance of souls. It has awakened in us a fresh appreciation of evil, a renewed zeal for good, and a recognition that American citizenship grants us a unique and precious sense of brotherhood.

Now, if we can manage our anxieties and fears, we will become better, nobler and stronger. We're doing it already. After six months, light has punched through September's darkness. Hope and resolution have shoved back despair. After six months, we're different but the same — brash, daring, idealistic and free.

Some societies may cut and run, but we stand tall. We braved the fire to set our brothers free. We hoist the flag, and our defiance proclaims to the world three things: We'll survive, we'll thrive, and we will win.