NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A ceremony was held this morning to mark a construction milestone at the World Trade Center site.

Construction workers removed their helmets and looked on teary-eyed as the final steel beam of the tower was lifted into place Monday, accompanied by a rendition of “God Bless America” performed by gospel singer BeBe Winans.

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Developer Larry Silverstein says his aim and that of the workers has been “to give New Yorkers back the city terrorists tried to take away.” More than 100 construction workers signed the beam before it was hoisted 977 feet by a crane and placed on top of the building.

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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called it an amazing moment.

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“Having lived down here my whole life and saying we’re going to build better than ever, but this is the prime example,” he said. “Seeing that beam go up was like another flag in the rebirth of downtown.”

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The original 4 World Trade Center was just nine stories tall and held what was one of the world’s largest trading floors. Its replacement, on the same footprint, is much taller at 72 floors.

The tower is scheduled to open late next year. It is expected to be the first tower completed on the 16-acre World Trade Center site since the destruction of 9/11.

It will be the city’s sixth tallest building when completed.

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