Not great-granddad’s Spain International Brigade

When an aging Abe Osheroff recalled why, as a 21-year-old kid from Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood, he had volunteered to join the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War in 1936, he framed it as a personal, ethical decision.

“Some of my friends were already going over. Some of them had been killed and wounded. … Then I began to see pictures of what was going on. … Bombardments, civilians getting plastered all over the place. … I knew that if I didn’t go, I’d be ashamed all my life.”

Today, his words seem to echo those of individuals from around the world who are willing to risk their lives to help Ukraine in its desperate struggle against the Russian invasion.

“Sitting by and doing nothing? I had to do that when Afghanistan fell apart, and it weighed heavily on me. I had to act,” a US veteran confessed to a New York Times reporter before he headed east.

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