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TODAY family toasts Harry Smith as he moves on from NBC News: ‘Nothing but gratitude’

The TODAY family raised a glass to the beloved NBC News correspondent, who is leaving after 12 years to teach at his collegiate alma mater.
/ Source: TODAY

Usually it's Harry Smith's poignant segments on TODAY that reduce viewers to tears. But on March 29, it was an emotional send-off for the beloved NBC News correspondent that left the TODAY anchors shedding tears of their own.

Harry is saying goodbye to NBC after 12 years of remarkable stories about everyday people, far-flung destinations and the world's biggest names. The TODAY family gave him a well-deserved champagne toast before he heads off to start teaching at his alma mater, .

"I have nothing but gratitude," Harry said. "Every time I would always come on this show, I was always welcomed so generously. I've had just this unbelievable array of phenomenal experiences since coming to NBC, and so I'm really full of nothing but gratitude. Every time I've come on, everyone would drop their phones, pay attention to the story and then respond."

"We only do that for you, Harry," Savannah Guthrie joked.

Hoda Kotb, Craig Melvin, Sheinelle Jones, Al Roker and Savannah stood and clapped for Harry after he looked back on some of his favorite stories over the years.

Whether it was schoolchildren, Auschwitz survivors, civil rights pioneers, legendary astronauts or World War II heroes — Harry often shined a light on how ordinary people achieved the extraordinary.

Harry Smith petting an elephant
In 2017, Harry Smith met the women on a mission to save elephants in Kenya.TODAY

He also showed how simple acts could become profound, like a man playing catch with strangers for a year to remind him of his late son, or a decorated concert violinist who plays in homeless shelters.

Harry took viewers around the world, from the Atacama Desert in Chile to the remote areas of Kenya, Angola and Antarctica. He also had plenty of laughs and memorable moments with celebrities like Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Cher, Madonna, John Mellencamp and Will Ferrell.

Harry Smith and Kevin Bacon
Harry took a stroll with Kevin Bacon in 2021.TODAY

"We are all better (because of) you, as are our viewers," Al said.

It's no surprise Harry will be teaching a class about curiosity at Central College. He also may write a book or two, he said.

"Harry, you have to write," Savannah said. "It's your mission, it's your gift. You're a wonderful colleague. We love you, we will miss you every single day, and you better keep in touch."