September 19, 2001 11:00 pm

Life in the United States has been changed forever. Last weeks terrorist attacks on the East Coast and the thousands of innocent people killed will forever be etched in our minds and in history. Combined with the stagnant economy weve been experiencing and the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, 2001 wont go down as one of Americas best years.

Still, as Americans, we have a lot to be proud of. And even in times of despair and anger, if we need a lift all we need to do is remind ourselves of how fortunate we are.

When times are tough, when tragedy strikes, Americans need to take a moment to reflect on some of the things that are good about life in these United States.

Remind yourself:

We live in a republic guided by democracy. We get to choose our leaders.

We have a constitution that guarantees our freedoms. We must never lose sight of how valuable those freedoms are.

Our standard of living, though it may go through cycles, is quite good.

We have an abundant food supply, even in times of drought or other natural disaster. And we have the most advanced agricultural industry in the world.

We have the opportunity for education.

We have advanced health care that, by and large, is available to all. Our life expectancy is twice what most of the world realizes.

We have technology that most Americans can share in and benefit from.

We have urban areas, rural areas, farm land, ocean beaches, deserts, parks and forests that all can enjoy. We work, but we can recreate, too.

Its no wonder were the envy or in some cases the ridicule and the enemy of the world. We have so much to be proud of. From a world view, we have it all.

The events of Sept. 11 have cast a cloud of sadness, grief and anger over America. Our freedoms and our security are being tested.

But rather than mire ourselves in depression and a demand for retribution, we need to remind ourselves about the good things in life and why we are such a proud lot. Let us never lose sight of those things that are the foundation for what makes us proud to be Americans.