Cronkite and Sevareid Assess the Moonwalk
On July 21, 1969, CBS television anchor Walter Cronkite and commentator Eric Sevareid spoke together on the air after the astronauts had completed the first moonwalk. Here are excerpts from that conversation. Cronkite: Man has landed and man has taken his first steps. What is there to add to that? Sevareid: At this hour one can only subtract. I don't know what one can add now. We've seen some kind of a ``birth'' here. And I'm sure that to many, many people the first scene of [Neil] Armstrong emerging, must have seemed like a birth - one's image of this clumsy creature, half-blind, maneuvering with great awkwardness at first, and slowly learning to use its legs, until, in a rather short time, it's running. And in this new world, this new reality. And the quickness of the adjustment of the human body, and the nervous system. The weight of gravity on Earth. Just the other day they were at the Cape [Canaveral]; then weightlessness of several days; and then to the moon's one-sixth gravity. And somehow the body adjusts with that speed and in totally different elements. This is what overwhelms you. And Armstrong's words. He sounded very laconic, unemotional. His mother said, as she heard them on the air, that she knew that he was thrilled. And I think we'd have to take a mother's word for that. And then when they moved around, you sensed their feeling of joy up there. I never expected to see them bound, did you? Everything we've been told was that they would move with great care, foot after foot, with great deliberation. We were told they might fall. And here they were, like children playing hopscotch. Cronkite: Like colts almost. Sevareid: Like colts finding their legs, exactly. I must say, as somebody who loves the English language, I have such a great gratitude that the first voices that came from another celestial body were in the English tongue, which I feel is the richest language of all. I think it is the greatest vocabulary. And maybe only 300 million people or so on the Earth speak and understand it. But I never expected to hear that word ``pretty.'' He said it was ``pretty.'' What we thought was cold and desolate and forbidding - somehow they found a strange beauty there that I suppose they can never really describe to us. So we'll never know. Cronkite: It may not be a beauty that one can pass on to future beholders, either. They will, in effect, be a bit stranger, even to their own wives and children. Disappeared into another life that we can't follow. I wonder what their life will be like, now. The moon has treated them well. How people on this Earth will treat these men, the rest of their lives, that gives me more foreboding, I think, than anything else.