TODAY   |  May 10, 2013

A new beginning: What One WTC means to US

After over six years of construction, the final pieces of the One World Trade Center building are being put in place, making it the tallest building in the western hemisphere. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports and Matt Lauer takes in the view from the top.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we'll go back to matt who is high atop one world trade center . matt, the view looking pretty good.

>> it's not bad, savannah, you can see lady liberty in the harbor behind me just to the right that's ellis island on a spectacular friday morning in the new york area, now back to tell you where i am, i'm walking on what feels to be a precarious catwalk. i'm on one of two cranes on the top of one world trade center . to my right is the second crane, that one is a little bit taller. it has to be, because in just a few minutes as i give the signal, that crane will begin to lift the final two sections of the spire, those sections are just down alongside me right now, they're about 75 feet in length, the top is the beacon that will be able to be seen 50 miles in any direction on a clear day and they'll lift that section or those sections up and lower them down to those ironworkers on the very top there, 1,701 feet above sea level . those guys from local 4 will guide it into place and bolt it together so it doesn't go anywhere and below me here you can see some members of the trade, some union members here, who have been so much a part, savannah, of this building process over the last six and a half years. there will be applause. there will be tears shed when that moment is reached in a little while. meanwhile, it has been a very long journey since 9/11, through a lot of the controversy over this project, to fill us in more on that anne thompson is across the way, she is over in new jersey. anne?

>> reporter: good morning, matt. no matter where you stand, whether you're in the tower as you are or you're beneath it or you're across the river like i am, this building is spectacular site taken means something to every american from the daily commuter to the workers who built the building to the victim's family. from the tragedy and the rubble of that horrible september day has risen a new beginning. we got an up close and personal look at the tower a year and a half ago when it was only 76 floors high, beams still being hoisted and the heat of blow torches cooled by the open air of the new york city sky.

>> wow.

>> reporter: many of the worker have been here since the tower fell and for them, this became a personal crew side.

>> you have a little bit of your life and soul embedded into that building there.

>> reporter: and for the victim's families whose hearts remain here, though they watch the tire rise from afar it's a mix of emotions. jim riches was a new york city fire chief on 9/11 and among his firefighters lost that day was his own son, jimmy.

>> it's great to see it built back up but for us there's never closure, he'll never walk through that door.

>> reporter: rose's husband, kevin, was in the south tower when it collapsed.

>> my husband's remains were never found so this is where he's buried. this is his final resting place . the building is a symbol of a coming back.

>> reporter: it's also a coming back for janelle miller, the last survivor pulled from the rubble.

>> maybe it's bittersweet but what they have done rebuilding the building i think it's great.

>> reporter: she's told her kids about what happened to her and so many others that day and hopes to eventually take them to visit.

>> they understand. they understand. they keep asking me, we should go back one day, even just to walk by the site. i want it to be all done and then i'll take them there.

>> reporter: i drove in from the airport the other night and for the first time i looked at the lower manhattan sky line and smiled. that's the first time since 9/11, because the tower was lit up and suddenly that gaping hole that we had all come to expect was no longer there. it is not the same. it will never be the same but matt t is progress.

>> it certainly is, anne thompson at liberty national state park, thank you very much.