It may not be the tallest building in the world, or even the United States. But the still-under-construction 1 World Trade Center, emerging from the ashes of 9/11 to become New York City's tallest building this week, is a welcome accomplishment and testament to the long and painful rebirth of a great American skyline.
More than 10 years in the making, 1 World Trade Center has reached 1,271 feet, surpassing the Empire State Building by 21 feet. When construction is finally completed next year the structure will top out at a historically calculated 1,776 feet.
But 1 WTC is much more than steel and glass and concrete and numbers. Its 104 stories are a testament to the American heart. And ground zero at the tip of Manhattan joins those other iconic symbols that celebrate the country's triumphant and tragic history, including the USS Arizona, Gettysburg, Mount Rushmore, the Lorraine Motel and the Washington Monument among others..
This will always be hallowed ground for the nearly 3,000 souls lost on 9/11 in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pa., including nearly 400 New York City first responders who died trying to save lives in the worst terrorism attack in U.S. history. Their sacrifices are honored at a memorial within the World Trade Center complex.
But 1 WTC is also about all the tomorrows yet to come. It is about the retaking of a vibrant city's ambitions and dreams, a pulse that a small group of terrorists failed to shatter. In time the skyscraper will be filled with the bustle of life. And just like the twin towers it succeeds, 1 WTC will be easy to find, looming over the city, a beacon for all.