Britain Thursday went all out to honor the 100th birthday of a World War II veteran who has become a national hero for his $37 million fundraising effort for the nation’s health service.
A retired engineer and captain in the British Army during World War II, Tom Moore wanted to do something nice for the National Health Service for the treatment he received after breaking his hip.
Earlier this month he started an online campaign, pledging to do 100 laps - using his walker- around his 25-meter yard in exchange for donations. He had hoped to raise about $1,200. Instead, within days, he had raised millions.
Since then his effort made “Captain Tom” a British celebrity, and the nation showed its appreciation Thursday.
The Royal Air Force sent two World War II-era planes over his home. Congratulatory massages poured in from, among others, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Prince Charles and England football captain Harry Kane. About 125,000 birthday cards came in from around the world, enough to fill a hall in his grandson’s school.
And the British Army – with the approval of Queen Elizabeth – gave him an honorary promotion to colonel and replaced a medal he had received for his service but had lost.
The Guiness Book of World Records says Moore set a record for most money raised by an individual charity walk.
Moore said Thursday he was very moved by the outpouring of gratitude, and for being made an honorary colonel. He said "I'm still Captain Tom, that's who I really am. But if people choose to call me 'colonel', well, thank you very much."