Captain Tom Moore became an internet sensation in Great Britain during the first coronavirus lockdown. The 100-year-old British World War II vet shuffled up and down his garden to raise money for healthcare workers. But it was his cheerfulness and persistence that captured the hearts of a nation. Moore died on Tuesday.
“The last year of our father’s life was nothing short of remarkable,” Moore’s family says. “He was an incredible father and grandfather, and he will stay alive in our hearts forever.” Moore had tested positive for COVID-19.
“Captain Tom,” as he became known in the media, set out to raise $1,400 for Britain’s National Health Service by walking 100 laps of his backyard. But his quest went viral and caught the attention of millions stuck at home during the pandemic. Donations poured in from around the world. He ended up raising some $40 million.
For three weeks in April, fans saw daily videos of Captain Tom doggedly pushing his walker in the garden. His sunny attitude during a dark moment inspired people.
“Please always remember, tomorrow will be a good day,” Moore said in an interview during one of his walks. The words became his trademark.
When Captain Tom finished his 100th lap on April 16, a military honor guard lined the path. The celebration continued on his birthday a few days later, when two World War II-era fighter planes flew overhead in tribute. Moore pumped a fist as they roared past.
Moore was made an honorary member of the England cricket team, had a train named after him, and received the Freedom of the City of London award. He enjoyed the honors but remained focused on others.
In July, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in a socially distanced ceremony at Windsor Castle. “I have been overwhelmed by the many honors I have received over the past weeks, but there is simply nothing that can compare to this,” he said.
Born April 30, 1920, Moore studied civil engineering before being drafted into the army during World War II. He rose to the rank of captain and served in India, Burma, and Sumatra.
The former motorcycle racer slowed down at age 98 after he fell and broke his hip in 2018. A walker replaced his bike, but he kept moving.
In early April of last year, Moore’s family challenged him to walk the entire length of his 82-foot driveway. After he made it to the end, his son-in-law encouraged him to keep going, offering to pay one British pound (about $1.50) for every lap. He suggested a goal of 100 laps by Moore’s 100th birthday.
The challenge snowballed from there.
Moore thought he might be able to raise 1,000 pounds ($1,363) for the doctors and nurses who took care of him after he broke his hip. As he pushed his walker along his garden path, people facing the UK’s lockdown watched online. Soon, #TomorrowWillBeAGoodDay was trending on social media.
“People told me that there was something about my little walk that captured the hearts of those still in shock at the crisis,” Moore wrote in his autobiography.
He dedicated his autobiography, Tomorrow Will Be a Good Day, to “all those who serve on the front line of any battle—be it military, psychological, or medical.”
Captain Tom also thanked the country he inspired for inspiring him. After completing his backyard trek, he said, “I have . . . thoroughly enjoyed every second of this exciting adventure, but I can’t keep walking forever.”
Captain Tom was correct. Human bodies don’t last forever. The Bible says: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) However, the God who holds all the tomorrows promises that the future is bright for those who know Him.
(Captain Sir Thomas Moore poses after receiving his knighthood from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth during a ceremony at Windsor Castle on July 17, 2020. Chris Jackson/Pool via AP)