Here are a few of the things we have learned -- or better yet, perhaps, recalled -- since last September 11.

Evil exists. So does good.

Every moment of life is a blessing, filled with countless gifts, small and large.

The most reverent mourning includes an interlude of laughter, in tribute to the joy others presented to us.

Hardship draws forth your friends and unmasks your enemies.

You can never measure your heart until life and death collide. Do you run, or turn back to face the torrent?

Fear is a potent weapon, but love is an invincible bulwark: A man motivated by love can rush into an inferno and save strangers, while a man driven by hate cannot save even himself.

Moral clarity guides people toward truth and nations toward greatness. A cowardly sophistication de-moralizes societies and dooms them to bitterness without self-respect.

Revenge cannot sustain something as awful and consuming as war. Great nations must commit their blood and treasure for things vital, noble and just: Liberation, freedom, democracy, and respect for the dignity of human life.

Life goes on.

The God who created that life cannot celebrate its destruction.

We have been struck. We have grieved. Pain ebbs, memory lingers. And now, as we always do and will, we Americans we will look forward to explore defiantly the promises of liberty, democracy and virtue. Terrorists may laugh and shout as they die, but their influence vanishes in the fireball; their malice consumes them utterly.

That's the difference between them and us: For it is our heritage, mission and destiny to challenge the darkness and seek the light. The moment we surrender that quest, they win.