Buzz Aldrin has come to hate this title: the second person who walked on the moon.
Does it really matter that he was second? Well…
Here’s how he explains it, h/t Trung Phan, via National Geographic (emphasis added):
It was of course Neil Armstrong who made that “giant leap for mankind” by being the first man to walk on the moon. Does it upset you to be known as the second man on the moon?
At the time, not in the least. As the senior crew member, it was appropriate for him to be the first. But after years and years of being asked to speak to a group of people and then be introduced as the second man on the moon, it does get a little frustrating. Is it really necessary to point out to the crowd that somebody else was first when we all went through the same training, we all landed at the same time and all contributed? But for the rest of my life I’ll always be identified as the second man to walk on the moon. [Laughs.]
What are the key lessons you would like to pass on to the next generation?
I’ve not had a flawless life. I’ve had to deal with many changes and challenges. I flew combat missions during the Korean War, lived through the threat of nuclear annihilation, and faced various challenges in the space program and my own life. Along the way, I discovered that I could contribute by using my innovation to think outside the box, in order to better serve my country. I took an oath to do that when I was 17 years old, and I’ve continued to be motivated by it, not by financial gain. I’m not driven by what comes back to me. It’s the satisfaction of knowing that I’m helping to chart a course for others to bring nations together.
It doesn’t matter so much what order you were in getting it done, just that you got it done, for the right reasons.