I can't remember a New Year packed with as much promise and foreboding as 2003.

We're fighting a war on terror against maniacs who don't value anybody's life, including theirs.

We're massing troops near Iraq and everybody in the region expects war.

We have to contend with a nuclear North Korea apparently eager to call our bluff by building atomic bombs.

We face a sputtering economy, a demagogic debate about race and the usual primping and posturing that precedes presidential elections.

In short, we're facing a year of tests which means we'll find occasions to pull together and reflect afresh on the basics -- liberty, dignity, faith, family and old-fashioned American brashness.

From the first shots at Breed's Hill nearly 229 years ago, we Americans have managed repeatedly to turn hardship into occasions for demonstrating our ingenuity and generosity of spirit.

Get ready, friends. I have a feeling we'll be called to do it again -- soon.