While it remains too early to fully place blame for Monday's sinister bomb attack at the Boston Marathon, it is abundantly clear that this was an act of terror against the United States.
Whether the perpetrators of this evil act turn out to be foreign or domestic, the fact remains that they are, indeed, terrorists.
At last count there were three dead -- including an 8-year-old boy -- and more than 170 injured, some of them severely. There were a number of the injured who suffered amputation of limbs.
The bomb did not inflict the kind of carnage that occurred during 9/11, nor does it seem to have been that well organized, but it does serve as a painful reminder to our nation of that horrible day nearly 13 years ago. We would surmise that those responsible for this act had exactly that in mind from the outset.
Placing a bomb at a public event such as the marathon usually is designed to serve two purposes: first to do maximum damage and second to scare the victims into changing their lifestyle. The primary purpose of such terror attacks is, in fact, to make people feel unsafe and unprotected.
The chill created by the notion of dead children and severed body parts strewed about the streets of Boston has done just that. At least temporarily.
But we are certain that Americans will not be cowed. As it did after 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing, the nation will survive this and we will carry on.
We are glad that the FBI is leading the investigation of this bombing. While other law enforcement agencies love to privately complain about the FBI being glory hogs, the agency has the kind of resources needed to effectively conduct such a monumental investigation. Leads on this matter could stretch halfway around the world.
It was two explosions 16 seconds apart at about 2:50 p.m. that rocked the finish-line area at Monday's marathon. The marathon is one of America's most iconic and interactive sporting events, which may explain why it was chosen in the first place.
It seems to us that the initial response by authorities to the crisis was excellent. For example, air traffic at Boston's Logan Airport was quickly halted, police told motorists to evacuate the city, and cellphone service was temporarily silenced to prevent remote detonation of devices.
Those all seem like prudent and proper steps.
President Barack Obama was right to remind the nation not to jump to specific conclusions about who may have been responsible for this act or why.
But he did say Tuesday it was an act of terrorism. We agree. As we said, what we know for certain about the perpetrators is that they are cowardly terrorists.
It may take a while, but we have every confidence that the FBI will pursue the bomber or bombers and they will be punished to the fullest extent of the law. In the meantime, our hearts and prayers go out to the blast's victims and their families.