Just a week ago, the world was receiving the first sketchy reports of damage and loss of life from the Indian Ocean tsunami. By evening, we were being told that 13,000 were dead.
Today, we know that more than 10 times that number died, and the toll is rising. Whatever the final number is, it will be an estimate.
In this week, the world has responded with an outpouring of charity that hasn't been seen since the first days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Aid, however, cannot come too fast. Women and children were the disproportionate immediate victims of the tsunami because men tend to be stronger swimmers. The most vulnerable surviving victims continue to be children, especially those who have been orphaned, and women, especially the estimated 150,000 women in the affected area who are pregnant.
President Bush, who in the immediate wake of the earthquake pledged $35 million in aid quickly came to realize that the extent of the damage and the short and long-term needs of the survivors made that an inadequate pledge. By week's end, he wisely committed the nation to increase that amount tenfold.
Especially in the 60 years since World War II, the United States has earned the reputation of not only being a great power, but a nation with a great heart. This would be no time us to waver in our commitment to help the stricken, no matter their politics, their nationality or their religion.