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Capt. Sir Tom Moore, Who Raised Millions To Fight COVID-19, Dies At 100

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Captain Sir Tom Moore was a British World War II veteran who raised more than $40 million to help his country fight the coronavirus. He died after contracting COVID-19 himself. Moore was 100 years old. And NPR London correspondent Frank Langfitt has this remembrance.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: The United Kingdom is more politically polarized today than it's been in decades. But most everybody here agrees on this. They love Captain Tom Moore, even if a year ago, they'd never heard of him. Moore captured the nation's imagination last spring, when he vowed to walk a hundred laps in his garden with the help of a walker before he turned 100 years old. Relying on social media, he hoped to raise $1,250 for health care workers. When he surpassed $9 million after less than two weeks, he was stunned, as he told NPR at the time.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

TOM MOORE: It's absolutely awesome. It's almost unbelievable that sort of money. It's going to be - I mean, I've never certainly come across that sort of money before.

LANGFITT: Moore quickly became a household name here and an inspiration. His cheerful optimism provided a morale boost to a nation whose government is widely seen to have bungled the response of the coronavirus. Britain has the highest death toll in Europe, more than 106,000. Here's Captain Tom, as he was known, bucking up his countrymen on Britain's ITV.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOORE: Tomorrow is a good day. Things are going to get better. The sun will start shining on everybody.

LANGFITT: Moore struck a nerve because his campaign combined two big sources of British pride and identity - the United Kingdom's victory in the Second World War and the beloved and underfunded National Health Service, which has struggled at times to handle the flood of COVID patients. Moore was also modest, a classic British trait.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOORE: One little soul like me isn't going to make much difference. My hope is it does. But it won't really, will it?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LANGFITT: In July, at a ceremony at Windsor Castle, Queen Elizabeth knighted him, capping his extraordinary late-life second act.

Last month, he contracted pneumonia. His family said medication for that infection prevented him from getting the new vaccine. Moore was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week.

Frank Langfitt, NPR News, London.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANISHA GALE'S "DRAWING BOARD") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.