Wichita Eagle: Disasters can bring out the best in people. They can move ordinary citizens to extraordinary acts of compassion, courage and resolve.
Tuesday's terrorist attacks produced such noble responses -- but even more will be needed in the coming days and weeks.
Nationally, there are many reports of heroism, large and small, following the deliberate crashing of hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington. Office workers helped each other escape burning buildings. Pedestrians stopped to assist those who stumbled while fleeing the smoke and falling debris.
Though it is their job to respond to disasters, emergency personnel and law-enforcement officers also acted heroically, rushing into danger. Tragically, many of those professionals sacrificed their lives trying to save others.
Caring: Throughout the country, many others also did their jobs well. Airline pilots safely diverted their planes to other airports, some with small runways. Doctors and nurses cared for victims. Clergy comforted families. Military personnel quickly went on alert and stood ready to protect this nation in any way necessary.
Regrettably, Tuesday also saw some selfishness, opportunism and misplaced anger. A surge in demand for gasoline led to drastic price increases and fistfights at some service stations. There were also some racist threats toward Islamic-Americans.
But overwhelmingly, Americans responded to Tuesday's evil with good.
This country now faces a long and difficult clean-up and recovery effort. There will be rippling effects of the explosions, including economic strain and heightened security measures.
Such consequences will be frustrating and inconvenient at times, especially as the initial horror subsides and most of us return to our normal routines. But the goodness and caring and unity that Americans have shown must continue.
Our nation's character is being tested. We must rise to that test.
U.S. MUST ATTACK SOURCE OF TERRORISM
San Jose Mercury News: The prime suspects in Tuesday's terror attacks are groups outside the country. They have the desire; they have the means. If guilty, they must pay a severe price.
And if it is one of them, the United States must plan a retaliation that is more comprehensive than finding the specific perpetrators and smashing them. Otherwise, reprisals may result only in further attacks, as more people are angered and recruited to the cause.
The United States has tried bringing terrorists to justice in the manner of corralling everyday criminals. Those who tried to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993 were arrested and convicted.
Martyrs: It has tried giving them a taste of their own medicine. The bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa were answered with cruise missile attacks on a factory in Sudan and a suspected terrorist camp in Afghanistan. The trial took a handful of terrorists out of commission. The missiles might have recruited more martyrs than they deterred.
Retaliation must be forceful but astute. It should weaken the ability of terrorist groups to continue their war. This requires expanding the mission to attack the roots of worldwide terrorism.
LET'S MOVE FORWARD -- SMARTLY
Miami Herald: The demolition of the World Trade Center and devastation at the Pentagon have carved a new definition of terrorism into America's consciousness -- and the world's, too. Who would have imagined that terrorists would use commercial jetliners as lethal, fuel-filled bombs to explode icons of U.S. commercialism and defense?
Yet those were the weapons of choice for a band of determined 21st-century terrorists. The brazen uniqueness of their "low-tech, high-concept" attack gave the terror merchants the advantage of surprise, which, just as occurred 60 years ago at Pearl Harbor, caught America flat-footed and defenseless.
Acts of war: Franklin D. Roosevelt vowed to avenge the attack and to restore the nation's confidence. So, too, does President Bush. Wednesday he condemned the attacks as "acts of war" and pledged to do "whatever it takes" to track down and punish anyone involved in plotting the assault or harboring those who carried it out. Mr. Bush also wisely vowed to "rally the world" in America's anti-terrorism campaign.
In responding to this assault, the president will find that the entire country is unified behind him. Most of the world also is sympathetic and would support an American plan to find and punish those responsible.
Still recovery and prevention of further terror won't come easily.
BYPASS GAS STATIONS GUILTY OF PROFITEERING
Detroit Free Press: No matter how bad things get, you can always count on somebody trying to turn it into profit.
That was the case Tuesday, when a few gas station owners saw the nation's darkest hour as a chance to make a few extra bucks.
Panicked motorists lined up to buy gasoline at prices that, in some cases, exceeded $2 a gallon. At least one station in Michigan went to $5 a gallon.
According to a AAA Michigan survey released Wednesday, average unleaded gas prices rose 15.5 cents since Tuesday to $1.86 a gallon.
Panicked buyers: Station owners say part of the increase was due to a wholesale price increase Tuesday morning. And motorists didn't help by unnecessarily rushing the pumps. Nearly 200 stations ran out of gas because of panicked buyers. Some operators may have boosted prices to keep from running out, which would have left them dry for several days. Still others seemed to have sparked talk of shortage with little evidence that it was coming.
Drivers need to know that gas supplies are not in danger. They have no reason to panic or stockpile.
Neither do station operators have reason to raise prices to more than $2 a gallon -- and certainly not to $4 or $5.
The vast majority did not, but those who did not only profited from panic but fueled it. Customers should note who they are and find another place to fill up.