In 2003 there have been a number of positive developments that brought encouragement to a recession- and war-weary nation.
But there was no shortage of scary sights among the best and worst developments of the year.
The economy continues to recover even though unemployment remains stubbornly high. This in turn has helped buoy the stock market well above the lows it hit during the recession and the shocks of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The country is tentatively regaining a measure of self-confidence that was lost through the shocks of the war on terror that helped deepen and prolong the recession that followed a decade of phenomenal growth.
The longing for a return to relative security is tempered by the nagging fear that some new atrocity on the U.S. homeland could upset a recovery that might otherwise continue for several years to come.
But a nation that was cheered by the capture of most wanted fugitive despot Saddam Hussein is hoping that some of the positive developments of 2003 will carry over to a safer and far more prosperous 2004.