- Associated Press - Saturday, July 19, 2014

Editor’s note: AP reporter Harry Rosenthal wrote this article on the day of the moon landing 45 years ago, capturing the moment when seemingly everyone stopped to watch man take his first steps on another world.

They kept the whole world waiting while they dressed to go out, but once there, the whole world saw Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Never before had so many been eyewitnesses to such high adventure: Armstrong’s white boot coming down a ladder.

“It’s different, but it’s very pretty out here,” Armstrong said as his eye roamed a vista a human eye had never held - the moon.

The picture was like a nickelodeon of grandma’s time, starkly black and white, somewhat jerky, hard to see. Like a 1920’s movie, but with real life, breath-taking drama.

But it was man first stepping down to the moon.

The whole world watched as Armstrong guided his companion, Edwin Aldrin, down that historic ladder, seeing Aldrin’s foot tentatively seek that last step.

“It’s a very simple matter to hop down from one step to the next,” said Coach Armstrong. “It’s very comfortable, you’ve got three more steps and then a long one.”

And the world saw, and heard Aldrin - breathing hard from the unusual exertion - go down that last step, and then, for practice, leap up again.

“That’s a good step,” said Aldrin.

“Yeah, a three footer,” Armstrong said.

“Beautiful, beautiful,” Aldrin added.

“Isn’t that something.”

Aldrin reached down.

It was fairly easy, Aldrin reported. He said he got his suit dirty.

The camera and the microphone picked up Armstrong reading the plaque on the side of their spacecraft:

“Here man first set foot on the moon, July 1969.

“We came in peace for all mankind.”

And the electronic eye, 240,000 miles away, picked up the dawning light on the lunar surface, looking much like a glacial sea.

And the camera was held by man.

And it showed their spacecraft, Eagle, silhouetted against the curving horizon.

“I want to know if you can see an angular rock in the foreground,” said Armstrong, and it was interesting.

They looked like the moon voyagers in every science fiction movie ever made, only this time it was for real.

In their white suits and square backpacks, they moved around their weird-looking ship, ghost-like figures hopping like aged kangaroos in a series of small leaps. But in the moon’s one-sixth gravity, steps carried them far.

It was 11:42 p.m. EDT when two Americans on the moon floodlighted by the sun, stretched out the Stars and Stripes on the moon. One stepped back and raised a gloved hand in salute.

And still later, the President of the United States said to them, “All the people on earth are surely one in their pride of what you have done,” and they said “Thank you very much.”

And the whole world watched.

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