Two years ago we rediscovered ourselves -- our decency, strength, resilience, our resolve. But we knew even then the feeling wouldn't last.

Searing grief would give way to pain, which would melt into a permanent ache. Pettiness would crowd out nobility, the sense of urgency would drain away, leaving us to contemplate daily concerns.

Yet we also knew -- and this is critical -- that a time would come when we would have to show our mettle. Well, folks: That time has arrived.

It may seem tempting to go wobbly on the war against terror -- to relax since Al Qaeda (search) hasn't hit U.S. soil in two years.

It may seem frightening to toil in isolation -- enduring jeers from the indispensable French, while American soldiers dodge bullets in Tikrit. But we can't wish evil away any more than we can wave a wand and liberate those living beneath the boot of despotism.

These things require hard work and heroic persistence. American forces and the American people have done unthinkable things in two years: We became the first nation to win a war in Afghanistan; Saddam fell in three weeks -- and, oh yes, we absorbed economic losses of more than a trillion dollars without plunging into depression.

So enough of the defeatism and the politically-inspired malaise. The war on terror is, as everyone says, a war we cannot afford to lose. And it's one we will not lose. Remember that.