There is Captain Sir Tom Moore and what he did, and there is what many in the UK, and in particular in the English psyche want to see in him. The brave soldier who fought in WWII to save us from Covid-19 and from losing our minds and sense of identity.
All was still right in the indulgence of an old soldier’s world, one of brave soldiers, brave nurses, spitfires in honour, and an eventual knighthood by the Queen, extinguish any critical thoughts you may ever have had, for who are you to compare yourself to one of the untouchable heroes of that war, that defined this nation to this day? So let’s splash out on the colours for his sake. And on that day, the day he died, the flag was lowered by the government to half-mast.
The fact that this unexpected hero’s life – don’t get me wrong, his initiative is still remarkable, even had he only raised 1000 Pounds – was in the end put at risk by a trip to the Caribbean in the midst of this last December, as I understand it, right in the growth period of the third wave of Covid-19, is then not surprising. That is because in many people’s minds, heroes are invincible. And it was the government let by the Über-Optimist Boris Johnson, that said, in those flattering optimistic tones, the nation can have X-Mass, which may have encouraged Moore’s family to take unnecessary risks. Optimism is not enough to run a government responsibly, we all now know. It is self-critical awareness and appreciating your and people’s vulnerabilities. For Moore on his return, it meant succumbing first to pneumonia and then Covid-19.
At the tender age of 100 years, Captain Sir Moore was as vulnerable as any person of his age, despite enjoying relatively good health. Precautions and shielding for a few more weeks would have seen him being amongst the first to get the vaccine due to his age. He was already too ill to stand for that ultimate reward and photo opportunity. And so Captain Sir Moore fell victim to the dissatisfying policies on Covid-19 as delivered by the government that saluted him so much as a hero, alongside many others of his generation in many care-homes, who may also have served during WWII but who were already forgotten and discarded in third class underfunded care homes. He sadly could not be saved by the NHS that he raised so much money for, starved of finances for decades, mostly under Conservative administrations.
If Moore’s passing is to be a victory, it is not his optimism or his patriotism that must stand out, but the simple fact that he knew in his heart to appreciate the NHS and those who work for it and took a strain upon himself to raise some money as a thank you for those who cared for him. And of course, one is grateful for his contribution to fight fascism. But he shall never be the tool of government to hide behind. In part, they are to blame for the misfortune that cost him his life, and no half-mast will change that.