Since Sept. 11

May 31, 2002

MORE THAN 1.8 million Americans have died. Close to 3 million have been born. Nearly 800,000 foreigners have immigrated here, hoping to become Americans.

Airlines have carried about 296 million passengers domestically. Class One railroads have hauled something close to 1.25 billion tons of freight. Auto manufacturers in Detroit and elsewhere have turned out nearly 8 million vehicles.

Maryland watermen have brought in 120,000 bushels of oysters. Commercial fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico have landed 4.65 million pounds of red snapper. Farmers across the country have been growing and harvesting a projected 1.37 billion bushels of winter wheat. American chickens have laid 60 billion eggs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen 276 points. On Broadway, 23 shows have closed; 33 have opened.

The World Series has gone to seven games. The NBA has completed an entire season, nearly. The United States has played host to 77 countries at the Winter Olympics, and managed -- just -- to keep Russia and Canada from coming to blows. MTV has brought Ozzy Osbourne's living room into the living rooms of 7.8 million others. Enron, with assets listed at $49.8 billion, has collapsed.

The Pentagon has endeavored to kill off an $11 billion howitzer. The United States has welcomed Russia to the 20th seat at NATO's table. Both countries have promised each other to put away two-thirds of their nuclear weapons.

The price of a gallon of gas has fallen and risen and is now falling again, to below $1.39. The retail price for roasted coffee has slipped below $3 a pound for the first time since 1994. Permits have been issued for the construction of 11,642,000 new homes.

The United States just keeps going on. There's no stopping it. The people who dispatched the Sept. 11 hijackers apparently gloated about the damage they'd done, and the years they thought it would take Americans to sort out the mess.

Here are a few more statistics:

Since Sept. 11, workers in New York have devoted 3.1 million hours to the cleanup at the World Trade Center site. They have removed 1,642,698 tons of debris, in 108,444 truckloads, at a cost of $750 million -- which is half the projected price tag. They finished the work yesterday, 3 1/2 months ahead of schedule.

All told, it was barely more than a New York minute. Was anyone surprised?

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